Best of Houston® 2021

Best Of Houston® 2021: Best Place to People Watch

Houston Zoo celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2022
Houston Zoo celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2022 Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Best Place to People Watch:  Houston Zoo

Sure, we see the irony in choosing Houston Zoo as best place to people watch in the city. One goes there to appreciate some of the other animals (6,000 on the zoo’s grounds) which co-exist with us on the planet. We might not actually give much consideration to the millions of humans from all over who pass through its gates annually. Truth be told, an afternoon at Houston Zoo is a good reminder that we’re not even the most interesting creatures within its 55-acre confines, much less outside its nearly 100 year-old walls.

Watching humans watch animals can be exciting and informative, though. The zoo’s main objective is to educate. People-watching there is a good chance to see how we share information about the world around us, especially if we’re stewards for wildlife conservation or environmental causes. Because kids are there so often — with families, on field trips or in the zoo’s many youth programs — we can see how older humans teach younger ones. There’s value in watching people exchange critical ideas civilly, face to face and surrounded by real life of all kinds, rather than behind the protective cyber walls of Twitter or Facebook.

The zoo is a romantic place, nice for first dates, so we can spy how people court and if it’s much different than the peacocks showing off in the bird exhibits. Much better than binge-watching one of those trash TV reality dating contests. You’ll witness families interacting and notice that the simple, loving swipe of ice cream from a toddler’s messy gob is no different than a monkey mama cleaning her baby’s cute li’l monkey face. Houston Zoo affords us a chance to see one another and recognize that we still have very much in common with the supposed lesser beasts and we should always strive to see after them and ourselves, too.

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