Baden-Württemberg: Elephants have to wait: construction project is delayed

The planned world of elephants in the Wilhelma should be unique in the world.

Baden-Württemberg: Elephants have to wait: construction project is delayed

The planned world of elephants in the Wilhelma should be unique in the world. A lighthouse project for the zoological-botanical garden in Stuttgart. But the pachyderms have to be patient, because the country initially does not want to pay.

Stuttgart (dpa / lsw) - The Stuttgart Wilhelma has to postpone its big plans for the construction of the elephant house again under the pressure of the energy crisis. In the 2023/2024 double budget, the state does not provide any funds for the construction of the groundbreaking project in the state-owned zoological and botanical garden, only the planning and infrastructure measures can be continued in the next two years.

The plan was actually to complete the "Elephant World" by 2025. The state, as the owner, was supposed to contribute a large part of the construction costs of around 44 million euros, but the amount was not included in the budget. The circle of friends wanted to contribute ten million euros.

"Even if we would have liked to have invested in a new modern elephant house, we have to prioritize what is desirable and what our country really needs now," said Tobias Wald, chairman of the finance working group of the CDU parliamentary group. on the decision of the green-black coalition. The government must stay on course “in stormy and challenging times”. "That's why we're concentrating on the essentials," said Wald of the German Press Agency. The country sets "clear priorities" and invests in education and science as well as in safety and health.

For Wilhelma, which is already financially ailing, the renewed delay in the project is another blow, because the planned construction is considered a lighthouse project with which elephant husbandry in Stuttgart should be secured. However, a spokesman emphasized that the start of construction would be delayed "only slightly". The preparations for the new elephant world could continue. "The funds for the actual construction of the elephant world should then be budgeted for in budget 25/26," he said with conviction. "We are convinced that the elephant world will be realized."

At 1.5 hectares, the facility, which has been planned for many years, is to be ten times larger than the previous offer. With state-of-the-art zoology, there should be room for a herd of up to 14 animals. The facility is to be supplemented by several hundred square meters of building space and outdoor space for other animal species, as well as a catering area.

Elephants have lived in Stuttgart's zoological and botanical gardens since 1952. The trunk bearer is also the heraldic animal of Wilhelma.

As the owner, the state has repeatedly stepped in to support the nationally known zoo, which has gotten into financial difficulties. After a dramatic slump in visitor numbers due to the corona pandemic, there was initially a subsidy of 7.5 million euros in autumn 2021, and now the state government is again stretching a rescue package over the Wilhelma. According to the "Südwest Presse", among others, the cabinet wants to decide on a "liquidity assurance" for the zoo in the amount of 2.061 million euros.