Henry Poon's Blog

A Day at the Zoo

Day 181

The day after my friends and I went to Berchtesgaden, we went to Wilhelma, the Stuttgart Zoological Botanical Gardens.  It has a fancy name, but it basically is a zoo with exhibits for other life such as plants and insects.

Seeing as how I’ve never been to a zoo before (at least I don’t remember), but I have been to the safari and Biodome in Quebec, this trip to the zoo was quite interesting for me.

To get in, my friends used their student ID’s to get a student discount, but I however, didn’t have my ID anymore since I lost it.  I ended up using a letter of enrolment from my university to prove my student identity.  The best part about doing that was that I managed to communicate what I wanted speaking only German.

When we entered, we looked on the park map to see the best route we could use to see everything, but since the zoo had a plan for that, we decided to follow it.  It had a strange system of showing visitors which path to follow.  The intended path was marked by a yellow elephant with a direction to walk in and the path back to the beginning was marked by a blue elephant.  We tried our best to follow this route, but we didn’t really manage too well.  We still ended up diverging from the path.

Our first destination was a group of greenhouses that had plants from all over the world, but in particular, we saw a lot of cacti.  For some reason, the people at the zoo really like cacti.

Moving on, we saw a flock of flamingos just chilling there.  They didn’t really do much except just stand there and drink water.  We did get to see some flamingos standing on one leg just like what a lot of animal documentaries show.

Moving further along, we saw a peacock just wandering around the park.  We didn’t get to see it open its tail, but it was still pretty cool to see one live.  It kept trying to move away from the little kids that kept trying to chase it, but I still got a picture.  Apparently, according to Wiki, the umbrella term for the animal is “peafowl”, while the name “peacock” only refers to the male peafowl.

While we walked around the zoo (while deviating from the yellow elephant path), we came across a lot of signs that pointed to the “Titanenwurz”, which in English means “Titanum”, the tall and large plant local to Sumatra that has a smell similar to rotting corpses when it blooms.  Apparently, this zoo holds the world record for the tallest Titanum plant during blooming.

Moving further along, we ended up indoors and the only lights that illuminated the inside were a set of blue lamps inside a display.  In the display, there were bats.  Some of them hung there while others flew around randomly.  They didn’t shriek or make any noises for echolocation or anything like that though.  They were also bigger than I thought they were.

Moving further along, we came across plants that reminded me very much of Pokémon.  I guess the Pokémon were modeled after this plant.

The next part was the best part of the zoo: monkeys.  The monkeys here were really small and all they did was jump around from one branch to another.  While I was taking pictures of them, I moved my camera a little too close and it tried to grab my camera strap.  I felt its fingers brush against my hand before I moved my camera away.  While watching the monkeys, I kept hearing little kids yelling “baby monkeys!” in German.

There were other monkeys too, but those weren’t as interesting because they mostly just sat around eating (especially the apes).  Next, we moved on to see the more exotic animals – the big cats.  For some reason, these animals weren’t really in the mood to do anything.  Instead of sitting around like the monkeys, the big cats pretty much were just lying there.  None of the cats did anything special except the leopard when it got up to eat.

Next we saw other exotic animals like okapi (never even heard of this animal before) and various African/South Asian animals.  It was pretty cool to see an elephant duck down to grab food with its nose to eat.  I’ve never seen anything like that before.  The giraffes were cool too, but they weren’t quite as tall as I expected, but maybe these ones are of a different species or are just younger.  The rhino wasn’t very cool either since the zoo staff got rid of its horn, but maybe it’s safer that way.  But then again, a pissed off hippo could probably destroy a rhino.

The zoo also had some less interesting animals such as cows, chickens, lambs and various other farm animals that people eat on a regular basis.  This was probably the most boring part of the zoo.  These animals smelled absolutely terrible and weren’t very interesting to look at.  The cows here were only penned in by a electrified rope (which my friend touched and received quite a nasty shock – that was quite hilarious).  The next bunch of animals were saw were the bears.  Seeing the bears promptly reminded me of Stephen Colbert’s famous quote, “bears are godless killing machines!”  They do look quite menacing, except for the polar bear, who didn’t really feel like doing anything at all.  Maybe it was too hot or something.

The zoo even had some animals from Australia like crocodiles/alligators (I know the difference between them, but I don’t know how to “see” the difference) and kangaroos.  We didn’t get to see the kangaroos up close because some zoo personnel were cleaning the area at the time.

At this point, I realized that the zoo was a lot bigger than I thought.  We had already walked around for about 3 hours but there was still so much more to see.  Here are some more animals we saw.

Here comes the nastiest part of the exhibits – the insects.  Here they showed a lot of just purely disgusting pests like cockroaches, although, there were some cool ones like the insect that is able to disguise itself as a leaf.  They camouflaged themselves so well that it was almost impossible to see them.  However, on the more pleasant side, butterflies are always nice to see.

To finish our adventure at the zoo, we saw penguins.  I had no idea that there are some species of penguins that can survive such warm temperatures (or maybe all of them can – I don’t know).

After about 5 hours of walking around the zoo, we saw almost everything.  By now, our legs were very tired and we didn’t really have the energy to walk around anymore.  Instead, we did have enough energy for video games because afterward, we all went back to my flat for a good Team Fortress 2 (thanks to Valve for making this game free to play) LAN party.

More photos here

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