"Zoo experience doesn’t match up with childhood memories" by: Jessica Shepard

   Since Mike’s birthday was Monday, we celebrated it the weekend beforehand.
   That includes both of my errant siblings coming down for some family time.
   The hardest part was figuring out what to do or how to have fun.
   Granted, we’re usually a lot of homebodies who prefer watching movies together or lounging out by the pool.
   But, this time, Mike wanted to do something else – he just didn’t know what.
   We spent a good chunk of Saturday morning just brainstorming possible adventures before finally landing on going to the Houston Zoo.
   Now, while Mike said it had been years since he went, I had a hard time trying to remember the last time I was at a zoo at all.
   And I’m not counting those petting zoos from the fair or Rice Festival.
   During the drive there, my sister and I did some math troubleshooting and surmised that it was at least 15-20 years since I had been.
   She had been more recently with her boyfriend, though even then it had been almost five years for her.
   Still, the one thing that never changed was the parking.
   I can’t tell you how long we drove around for a parking spot or how many drivers nearly hit us when cutting close turns.
   We got to the point where we were about to give up before a nice spot opened up for us. 
   Afterwards, it was the typical waiting in line for tickets and trying not to get run over by parents with herds of small children.
   We got a chance to see some animatronic dinosaurs, lots of birds and hooved animals.
   I noticed a few new things as we walked around, too.
   There’s nearly always a recycling receptacle next to a trash can with helpful diagrams to help you sort your garbage before dumping it and a lot of “cool down” areas.
   But, I think the most awesome was seeing the water bottle refill stations near the water fountains.
   It certainly makes life easier so those without bottles don’t have to wait in line behind those that do at fountains.
   The only real downside besides parking was the fact that all the big cats seemed to be napping when we were there mid-afternoon.
   If I wanted to see that, I’d have just stayed home and watch our feline friends lounge around.
   All in all, it wasn’t too terribly bad, even though I hate being outside in the sun, heat and with bugs everywhere.
   We even got souvenirs and mom got a family photo of us.
   That part was weird and reminded me of Astroworld back in the day when they used to catch you just inside the entry gate, take your photo then give you a card to redeem it later.
   Except the zoo Photoshops an animal into the hands of whomever stands in the middle of the photo.
   Luckily that was me and unfortunately they don’t let you pick the Photoshopped animal.
   We ended up with a Blue Macaw in our photo and another cute family memory.

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