In July, we had family visiting here for two weeks: One of my cousins and her 10-year-old son stayed with my sister for part of their summer holiday. To make sure the boy had a great time here with his elderly relatives, my sister constantly thought of things to do he would enjoy. One of those activities was a visit to the zoo in Stuttgart.
I've briefly mentioned the zoo (called "Wilhelma" after its founder, King William [Wilhelm] of Wuerttemberg) in this post. Although I have mixed feelings about zoos, the Wilhelma is always worth a visit. Even if one would not want to look at the animals (and believe me, everything is done to ensure they live under the best possible conditions), the buildings and gardens alone are wonderful.
Living so close to Stuttgart, of course I've been to the Wilhelma many times, from a very early age. And yet I still discover things I have not noticed before, such as the star-studded ceiling painting in this building (part of a covered walkway, steps and a gallery connecting different levels of the park):
Most of the animals we saw were familiar from many previous visits. But one of the buildings from the late 1960s/early 70s is closed for renovation, and the animals who had their quarters there are moved to other houses. One such group are the bats I'd never seen in daylight before:
These are called "Flughunde" in German, "flying dogs". They look indeed a bit like small dogs - or, rather, cats - with their furry bodies, pointed ears and cute faces. It's a type of bat that lives on fruit; they present no danger at all to other animals or humans. The house they have been moved to temporarily is the Butterfly House. Visitors walk in, and there are no bars, no glass panels, no barriers at all between them and the many beautiful, jewel-like huge tropical butterflies living in the glass house. And now, they have new company in the shape of those bats. I really like them and would have so loved to stroke their soft fur, but of course they kept out of the way up on the higher branches of a tree.
Maybe if you look closely you can spot the little one that kept very close to one of the adults. The mother (I assume it was the mother, as it is the female of the species looking after the little ones with most mammals) clearly wanted to sleep, but the little one was restless and kept somewhat clumsily climbing up and down, not leaving mother in peace... most human mothers are familiar with such a situation, I guess!
Anyway, it was a long, good, interesting day with a lot of fun, for the boy as well as for us. After nearly 7 1/2 hours at the zoo (with two or three breaks for a drink and a meal), we got back to the car. The adults were all shattered - the 10-year-old wasn't! He still had enough energy to go and play with the neighbours' daughter after we returned home.