Wilhelma as a company - Tradition and Future
Wilhelma is the only zoological-botanical garden in Germany and one of the most biodiverse zoos in the world. Promoting domestic and global biodiversity, botanical collections and scientific research work are among our most important missions.
With around one and a half million visitors a year, Wilhelma is also one of Baden-Württemberg's most popular leisure facilities and one of the most visited zoos in Germany.
From our mission statement:
"Wilhelma is a zoological-botanical garden in the setting of a 19th-century park protected as a historic monument. The combination of a zoo, botanical garden and historic park creates a special high value and the unique charm of Wilhelma."
Strolling among magnolias, smelling exotic scents, meeting animals, experiencing diversity - Wilhelma offers an enrichment for all the senses.
Discovering nature, understanding ecological connections, feeling enthusiasm - environmental education is a central task at Wilhelma.
Observing behavior, collecting data, creating scientific plant collections - the Zoological-Botanical Garden collaborates with research teams at home and abroad.
Protecting animals and their habitats, preventing poaching, breeding rare species - Wilhelma is committed to more than two dozens of conservation projects worldwide.
"Wilhelma is a public service institution of the state of Baden-Württemberg committed to the common good." (Mission statement)
In its mission statement, Wilhelma has defined central tasks for itself.
- to provide people with recreation and relaxation,
- to provide knowledge about animals and plants,
- to increase knowledge about animals and plants,
- to work for the protection of nature and animals, especially for the preservation of biodiversity,
- to preserve cultural heritage and promote awareness of history,
- to maintain the state-owned green parks.
The first four tasks are part of the conservation strategy of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Each member zoo of WAZA (including Wilhelma) recognizes these standards. The other two tasks result from the history of Wilhelma's origins and the obligation to maintain public green areas in Stuttgart that belong to the state of Baden-Württemberg beyond the actual Wilhelma boundaries.
The Wilhelma team
Wilhelma is structured into five departments, which report to the director: zoology, botany, park maintenance, administration and the craft and construction department. There are two additional divisions: for environmental education and conservation, respectively public and media relations as well as marketing
- Zoology department
The zoology department is responsible for about 11,000 animals of close to 1200 species - from mammals and birds to fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. The zoo keepers work in 17 subdivisions including the veterinarian section clinic and quarantine station.
Wilhelma participates in breeding programs of EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. At present, 58 animal species at Wilhelma are cared for within the framework of a so-called European Endangerend Species Programme (EEP). It also participates in 32 European Stud Books (ESB) and 33 International Stud Books (ISB).
Wilhelma also regularly participates in so-called EAZA campaigns. These are nature and species conservation projects of EAZA, which are dedicated to a different endangered animal group each year.
The scientific staff of the department, veterinarians and curators, are members of various EAZA technical committees, participate in international studies and exchange data on endangered species.
The department includes two veterinarians, five biologists, one zoo inspector, about 100 animal keepers and a dozen trainees.
- Botany department
The botany department is responsible for all plants in the greenhouses, on the historic subtropical terraces and in the water lily pool in the Moorish Garden. In addition to the approximately 6,000 square meters of greenhouse space, there is also about 5,000 square meters of cultivation space behind the scenes at the nursery.
The main focus lies on the attractive planting of both the historical and modern greenhouses according to scientific, systematic and geographical criteria, on the cultivation of the more than 8500 mainly tropical and subtropical plant species and varieties, as well as on the preservation and expansion of the botanical collections.
The plants are divided into three categories: show plants, collection plants and crop plants. Show plants are all plants that are exhibited in the greenhouses. Collection plants, some of which are also show plants, belong to one of the twelve special plant collections and are available for scientific exchange and research. Nearly 90,000 plants are cultivated in the nursery each year to decorate the show houses and the parks, depending on the season.
The department includes a biologist, two horticultural engineers, six master gardeners, 22 gardeners and seven apprentices.
- Park Maintenance department
Almost everywhere in Stuttgart, you come across plants that the Wilhelma department of Park Maintenance has to care for and maintain: There are more than 100 small to large grounds. Together they cover an area of about 340 hectares, more than eleven times the size of Wilhelma Park. They include around 13,000 trees, featuring many beautiful old specimens.
70 employees in six units look after the well-being of the grounds: from garden architects and engineers to gardeners, arborists, garden workers, mechanics and sanitary specialists. Their tasks include the maintenance of meadows, lawns, perennials, shrubs, hedges and trees as well as the care of the fountains in the palace garden or the maintenance of the park paths. Not to forget tree and playground control, park cleaning and snow-clearing in winter. Only about 18 percent of all work is carried out by outside companies.
Tree management is a particular challenge, involving maintenance work, felling, replanting, tree protection measures and site restoration. In addition, every year the gardeners plant not only 60,000 flower bulbs, but also more than 40,000 individual summer and 80,000 winter plants at Wilhelma and in the outdoor areas, and remove them again after the flowering period.
In addition, it is the responsibility of the Park Maintenance department to accompany all construction measures that affect its facilities, including external project such as the construction of the Rosenstein Tunnel by the City of Stuttgart. Furthermore, there are smaller and larger landscape architectural tasks, such as new planning and maintenance of animal enclosures in Wilhelma, of playgrounds and plantings, as well as concepts for dealing with pests such as the box tree moth. This also includes nature conservation like cooperations to improve living conditions of insects by creating meadows for butterfly, wild bees and perennial trial areas. One of the greatest challenges is to keep the facilities in good condition despite increasing interference from infrastructure projects and construction measures, events and, unfortunately, misconduct on the part of park visitors. This is and remains Wilhelma's primary goal - so that we can all continue to enjoy the beautiful and unique parks for a long time to come.
- Technical department
In contrast to the animal keepers and gardeners, whom Wilhelma guests encounter time and again in the park, the craftsmen usually work unnoticed in the background. The technical department has 20 employees. In addition to six employees in the administration building, the department also includes 14 persons in the five associated workshops. Four colleagues each work in the locksmith's shop and in the heating/sanitary department, three colleagues work in the electrical workshop, and there are also two carpenters and a painter.
The technical department is involved in the planning and development of new animal enclosures, playgrounds and greenhouses. When it comes to smaller projects that Wilhelma carries out on its own initiative, the team of technicians and craftsmen can show their abilities at their best: They know all the places, corners and niches of Wilhelma and their special features very well. Large building measures are always carried out in close cooperation with the State Office "Vermögen und Bau Baden-Württemberg" in Stuttgart.
It is a daily challenge to stay up to task. In many buildings, renovations are pending, the requirements are complex. Sometimes a water pump breaks down, sometimes a rusty iron hinge fails. Ailing power lines also have to be replaced continually, and friable water pipes break. The structural fabric of the historic buildings suffer from its current use that was unintended when built. The Wilhelma inhabitants leave their mark on all the buildings, as does the watering and the daily cleaning of the animal enclosures. All this means constantly changing tasks, which often have to be carried out during continuing operation. This means that more than 1,500 to 1,600 work orders accumulate each year.
Maintaining the efficiency and functioning of the overall operations is the task of Wilhelma administration. In addition to human resources, accounting and IT, the cashier's office and parking lot are also part of this department. Wilhelma's management consists of the director and his two deputies. In addition, the two divisions for marketing and public communication respectively environmental education and conservation are assigned to the directorial board.
The division of Environmental Education and Conservation combines offer of extracurricular teaching for school classes with Wilhelma's worldwide conservation work. A total of 14 people are employed here, most of them trained biologists. Every year, more than 700 guided tours for school classes, a dozen themed event days, the design of educational information systems for new animal enclosures and the coordination of more than two dozens of conservation projects are in the responsibility of the staff unit.