Sunday, August 6, 2017

A visit to Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen and Alte Statione in Rechburghausen

Continuing the animal theme Bill and I started yesterday when we visited Wildpark Pforzheim, today we visited Der Kleine Tierpark in Göppingen.  When Bill and I lived near Fort Bragg, I had a German friend from Göppingen.  She had married a guy from the tiny rural county (Mathews) next to where I grew up in Virginia (Gloucester County).  I have since lost touch with my German friend and I have a sneaking suspicion that she and my former "neighbor" have split up, though I do have her to thank for helping me acquire my dog, Arran, from Triangle Beagle Rescue.  Anyway, long story short, I had been curious about where my friend was from and, when I heard Göppingen had a Tierpark, decided I wanted to see it.

Göppingen is not that close to where Bill and I live.  While Pforzheim is a bit northwest of us, Göppingen is east... well past Esslingen and a bit on the way to Bavaria.  It took about an hour to get there from Unterjettingen.  If you're on the other side of Stuttgart, it will no doubt be much more convenient for you to get there than it is me.  I knew going into this trip that the tierpark in Göppingen was not going to be as large or impressive as the Wildpark Pforzheim is.  Having now seen the park, I can now say that I found Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen a little bit depressing in comparison.  I see similar comments on their Facebook page.


Entrance to the Tierpark.

We arrived at the park just before one o'clock.  A lot of people were there with their small kids.  We parked on a rather poorly maintained access road and walked to the entrance, stopping to say hello to some ponies on the way there.  Parking is free at the park, but there is an entrance fee.  It was 3,50 euros per adult.  Bill also sprang for a box of food for the animals that were allowed to be fed.  As soon as we walked into the park, we were immediately met by a couple of eager goats.  Seriously, they were like dogs!  They saw us coming and were there to greet us with demands for food.  The goats were housed in an enclosure with a pig or two.

I quickly realized that this park, while it did allow for feeding and petting some of the animals, was more of a zoo.  It houses monkeys, exotic cats, snakes, kangaroos, a couple of camels, as well as a few more pedestrian animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, alpacas, llamas, and goats.  It's also working on a smaller budget.  The park itself is compact and rather cramped.  It's built on a hill and not particularly stroller friendly.  The walkways are a bit narrow and the pavement is not that even.  There are also some steps.



Cute ponies/mini horses on the way in.  I stopped to say goodbye on the way out.


A *very small* play area that looked to be somewhat poorly maintained.


This friendly billy goat was the first to greet us.


This one was also clamoring for food.  I obliged them, but then went searching for the bathroom.  There is a small one in the park's very petite gasthof, which has a small selection of snacks and drinks.  That's also where the snakes and fish are kept.  I can't comment on the food or beverages at the park, because we didn't try them.


Dogs are allowed, as long as they are on lead.


I checked out the fish on the way out of the tiny bathroom.



They also have a corn snake who wasn't feeling very social during our visit.


Lop eared rabbits.



Flamingoes...


These information signs, along with signs informing whether or not the animals can be fed, are on the enclosures.




There was a bit of a crowd around one of the more active primates, so I got pictures of the ones who were not as popular.  The one in the picture above appears to be multitasking...


Colorful birds.


A couple of cute bunnies.


I was pretty charmed by the camels...  They were surprisingly friendly.


Like the Highland cow I met yesterday, these two figured out how to be fed...  The bigger one just opened his mouth and waited for me to throw food in it.



They shared a pen with a couple of Jacob sheep.





This one followed me to an area with a lower fence and really laid on the charm.  I got several photos.




I think this picture may be my favorite.  She was totally posing for me and, at this vantage point, I didn't have to toss food into her mouth.  I offered some from my palm and she took it gently.



More birds...


More monkeys...  these guys were pretty active.




Clipped wings.  


I got a huge kick out of this donkey...  I could have visited all day.


The white donkey was a bit crankier and greedier.  She kept bullying the other animals.


Spotted kitties...  ;-)



A pig.


The ponies/mini horses were happy.

The whole tour took about 40 minutes and that was only because we were going slowly.  It was a little hard to get around the park, since there isn't much room.  We were held up for a few minutes by a family that was enchanted by one of the monkeys.  And when we did get past them, they didn't necessarily give us a chance to check out the animal ourselves.

I don't think I would necessarily recommend making a special trip from Stuttgart to see this park.  Moreover, although I got the sense that some of the animals did not stay in their enclosures 24/7, the pens did seem a bit small to me.  On the positive side, the animals did all appear to be healthy, well fed, and mostly contented.

The tierpark itself looks like it's outgrown its environment.  There are a lot of different animals packed into what seems to be a rather small place.  I did see some attempts at teaching, with small signs informing visitors in German what they were looking at and including information where the animals come from.  I know this park relies on donations, but if I'm honest, I found it a little sad... especially compared to the Wildpark Pforzheim, which has a lot more room for their animals to move around.  It does appear to be a popular spot for young kids, though, and if you happen to be in the area, it may not be a bad place to stop.

After we visited the animals, Bill and I went into the adjoining town of Rechburghausen and had lunch at the Alte Statione Pizzeria and Restaurant.  It has a nice terrace, as well as a pleasant indoor area.



Bill decides on lunch...


We had a couple of beers that appeared to be special at the restaurant.


I had tagliatelle with rose sauce and smoked salmon.  This was very good, but filling.  I brought half of it home.


Bill had the paprika schnitzel with chips.  This was the "small" portion, which was plenty!  I noticed the pizzas coming out looked and smelled great.  Service was good and prices were very reasonable.  Parking was also easy, since there's a big grocery store across the street.  I noticed people parked there to take walks or bike rides on the nearby nature trail.  



Good lunch stop.

All in all, it was a pleasant enough afternoon, but I would definitely recommend the Wildpark Pforzheim over Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen.  On the other hand, I did enjoy interacting with the animals and feeding them... even if I did get a little bit closer to the camels' teeth than I wanted to be!

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