Best Zoo Animal - 2000
Orangutan, Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, (713)523-5888
Most of the animals at the zoo don't seem to care too much about visitors. They eat or pee or groom themselves or loll about, oblivious to the prying eyes and children's cries. But the orangutan knows what's going on. When a crowd gathers on the other side of her glass wall, she'll wander over to say hello, using her hand to shield her eyes from the glare so she can get a better look at you. She'll work her audience from left to right, and then, when she tires of you (which inevitably happens before you tire of her), she'll twirl her chewing gum -- yes, chewing gum -- like a bored teenager and head back over to the grassy knoll to finish her nap. You'll walk away, too, feeling a bit more like an animal yourself after gaping at a confined creature with 97 percent of the same DNA as a human.