20th Century

1919 Wilhelma becomes state-owned and continues to exist as a demonstration botanical garden. With the end of the monarchy in Germany the park is thrown open to the general public of Stuttgart.

1933 The horticultural engineer Albert Schöchle, only 29 years of age, becomes the head of Wilhelma and in 1936 Director of the State Parks and Gardens.

1944 Owing to bombing attacks parts of Wilhelma are very badly damaged or destroyed. All that is left is only the "Moorish Garden", parts of the living quarters with the splendid glasshouses, the kitchen building and the entrance to the banqueting hall, the old row of glasshouses along the R. Neckar, the Belvedere Pavilion and the Damascene Hall. The living quarters are restored over the years and extended to become The Tropics Hall with the Department for Night-Active Animals. The remains of the destroyed Moorish banqueting hall, after great deliberations, were demolished. In its place there is now the Aquarium and the Crocodile Hall. One original façade of the Moorish banqueting hall is integrated into the present building.

1948 Albert Schöchle also becomes Head of the State Gardens at Ludwigsburg. In the years 1954 – 1975 he is in charge of the "Blossoming Baroque" flower shows.

From 1949 onwards After several years growing vegetables for the Stuttgart hospitals in the after-war period, Wilhelma is opened to the public again with an azalea exhibition. Date of opening: 19.3.1949. On June 3rd there follows the "Great Aquarium Show", in September the special exhibition, "How plants have changed since the dawn of history".

1951 With the exhibition "Animals of the African Steppes", Wilhelma begins to keep giraffes, zebras and antelopes. The first penguins arrive, too.

1952 Animals of the Indian Jungle" brings the first elephants and tigers to Wilhelma. After each exhibition the animals always remain. This pleases the public, the Ministry of Finance, however, sends out the order, "The wild animals must disappear from Wilhelma". Director Schöchle goes to visit Minister of Finance Mr.Frank, taking with him a lion cub, and asks the Minister to baptize the little animal. The Minister goes along with this deal, which is a good bit of effectual publicity, thereby speaking a decisive ministerial word. The situation is saved with a provisional permit. The animals are allowed to stay and more are acquired.

From 1952 onwards Wilhelma expands to become the only zoological and botanical garden in Germany. Wilhelma gets the first three elephants. Vilja, now 57 years old and still with us, is one of them.

1955 Wilhelma is given the status of a business enterprise of Baden-Württemberg, therefore being able to manage its affairs more independently than before.

1956 The "Society of Friends and Supporters of Wilhelma e.V." is founded.

1958 Wilhelma gets its first three chimpanzees – former circus apes. Up to the year 2006 more than 90 primates are to be born at Wilhelma. Until today Wilhelma has the only rearing facilities for young apes in the whole of Europe.

1960/61 The Cabinet allows further expansion of Wilhelma, later the Parliament of Baden-Württemberg also agrees to this.

1962 The Moorish Villa becomes a combined House for Tropical Animals and Plants, with the very first Department for Night-Active Animals of any zoo in the world.

1967 On the site of the destroyed Moorish banqueting hall, the Aquarium-Terrarium with its Crocodile Hall is opened. Wilhelma acquires its white crocodile, later to become famous. An orang-utan is the first ape to be born at Wilhelma.

1968 The interim aquarium, now re-styled, is opened as the Bird and Small Mammal House.

1969 The northern glasshouse and the Cupola House at the Moorish Villa are completed.

1970 Wilbert Neugebauer, who has been working at Wilhelma since 1955, is now the new Director of Wilhelma. The open-air terrariums are completed.
The yearly number of visitors rises from around 1.03 million in 1960 to more than 1.61 million.

1973 Inauguration of the Houses for Greater and Smaller Apes and the open Compound for Red-Faced Spider Monkeys.

1975 The rocky Compounds for Monkeys and Mountain Animals are finished.
Wilhelma's School is set up.

1978 Wilhelma can celebrate a double anniversary: 125 years Wilhelma – 25 years zoological and botanical gardens.

1979 The new Insectarium is opened.

1980 Opening of the Compound for African Hoofed Animals with 6 stable buildings and 12 open paddocks.

1981 The Sub-Tropics Terraces for parrots are opened.

1982 The first residents can move in to the Young Animal Rearing Facilities. These were built with the aid of the Society of Friends and Supporters of Wilhelma.

1985 The 50th primate – who is also the 20th gorilla – is born at Wilhelma.

1987 The Wilhelma Theatre is now fully restored. It is to be used by the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart.

1989 The Head of the Aquarium, Dieter Jauch, becomes Director of Wilhelma.

1991 The Compound for Bears and Mountain Animals is opened with a huge festival. The construction was made possible with the help of the Society of Friends.

1992 In the restored Damascene Hall, an exhibition on the history of the construction of Wilhelma is shown. This is still to be seen every year from March to October.

1993 The Bird Enclosure between the Main Entrance and the Restaurant, as well as the Demonstration Farm are both opened within the framework of the International Garden Exhibition (IGA) 1993.