Latest

Europe’s Shameful Human Zoos Lasted Up To 1950’s

Human Zoos

It was not so long ago that people would travel from various countries to visit one of Europe’s human zoos.

Many people are aware that before Disneyland and the thriving theme park industry worldwide, there were traveling roadshows, circus’ and vaudeville – all invented to give people a pleasant entertainment distraction from their daily lives. One fact that seems to have been buried in history is that literally millions from across the globe would go to see one of the world’s most popular attractions: Human Zoos.

Human zoos were just as they sound, a horrific place not unlike a modern day city zoo, yet, instead of animals, native peoples of Africa, Australia and many more areas were the “animals” on display.

According to Powerful Primates:

Hundreds of thousands of people would visit these minorities who were on display like animals. The humans zoos were a large attraction, as 18 million came to visit the World Fair in 1889, held in Paris. Over four hundred Aboriginals and Africans were displayed in front of a large crowed of people, stripped down half-naked and thrown into cages.

Human Zoos_Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 12.55.28 AM

Humans zoos were very popular in Europe during the late 1800s until the mid 1900s. North America was not to be outdone, though, as they also got into the human zoo game.

In the early 1900s, the Bronx Zoo had an exclusive exhibit with a Congolese female named Ota Benga. Benga was thrown into cages with other animals, forced to carry apes and even wrestled with an orangutang. When he wasn’t with the animals, he would weave twine and shoot things with a bow and arrow.

human zoos

A Congolese pygmy named Ota Benga was on display at the Bronx Zoo in New York City in 1906. He was forced to carry around chimpanzees and other apes.

There was significant controversy from black clergymen about how Benga was treated as well as the rest of the Africans in the zoo. However, the New York Times reported at the time, “few expressed audible objection to the sight of a human being in a cage with monkeys as companions.”

Although people didn’t strongly oppose the human zoos in the 1900s, today, the public is flabbergasted that any person in their right mind could take part in such horrifying racism. A human exhibit was replicated in London with black actors who were chained up, which was shut down shortly after opening by anti-racism protestors.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 12.55.35 AM

Luckily, human zoos started to wear off in Europe after the Second World War. Ironically, Adolf Hitler was the one to ban them. The last human exhibition was held in Belgium circa 1958.

In Brussels, Belgium, the hosted “Peoples Shows” where this young Black girl is fed by the white spectators

Unfortunately, human zoos are yet another uncomfortable example of the world’s flawed past of racism and what’s worse is they happen to be a part of our recent history. Racism has come a long way since the 1800s, but it still occurs today. These wildly flawed incidents of the past are horrific, but should not be forgotten. Along with paying homage to those who suffered, acknowledging these acute examples of racism in our past often reflects the issues of today that will undoubtably shock and appal generations to come.

Africans, Asians, and Indigenous people were often caged and displayed in a makeshift “natural habitat.” The human displays were very popular and were shown at world fairs from Paris to New York.

Royce Christyn
About Royce Christyn (3467 Articles)
Documentarian, Writer, Producer, Director, Author.
  • 4chaim

    Yes I was aware of this .. what I am always surprised about is that most other-than-whites don’t know about this, when I tell them this when I am handing out leaflets in front of animal-prison-zoos.

    Although it is often said that animal-friends (I dont like the word activist; I am a civilia who uses his lawful right to protest – the basis of democracy) would be ‘radical’ and even ‘ant-humen’ (wtF?) It is always the same people who do this to animals, that also do this to humans:

    * Africans and Inuits and also ‘gipseys’ have been put in zoos, as well as deformed ‘white’ people (aka the elephant man f.i.)

    * vivisectors like to portray that anti-vivisectionists want experiments to be done on humans; but Joseph Mengele, who vivisected on Jews in Auschwitz, vivisected on animals before, during and after WW2, to compare test outcome of the humans’ and animals’ tests

    * When Nazi party NSDAP had the plan to forbid vivisection (still bad people; but) then the vivisectors of the pharmaceutical companies Bayer, Hoechst and Unilever forced them NOT to make it illegal – after which to support Mengele in his human vivisection on Jewish people

    * and still now vivisectors test on humans right after the did their experiments on animals: since a test on an animal will only tell you what the substance does in animals and NOT in humans .. they use mentally handicapped, dementing elderly, prisoners, but also tell cancer patients on which all else failed to sign weavers before they use them in the ‘first clinical trials’ of ‘new meds’, resulting in horrible side effects

    * children get sleeping disorder narcoleptia from vaccines: a result of vivisection – until 1928 vaccins were manditory in Netherlands, but because of this it became a thing by choice .. but they dont tell you up front these side effects can happen; and more diseases are linked to vaccination!

    * vegetarians get told by butchers that Hitler was a vegetarian; but his last meal before his suicide was one with meat – no vegetarian would eat meat as his last meal!

    * mass murderers started being cruel to animals as a kid – Dahmer and so on ..

    Animal abusers are the same people that abuse humans: they are the ones that were bullies in school!

    Peace to all beings!

    • wombat247

      Civilia- sounds like a single-cell organism. Maybe it was just a typo.

    • Marisol

      Are you comparing a deformed white man (Elephant Man) to African people? If so, you are just as racist as the rest of the devils. The sad part is that you don’t know it. Your spelling is poor, so perhaps I misunderstood what you were saying.

      • 4chaim

        No I did NOT; what I said is that those who CAN be victimised are always victimised by the SAME kind of people: those who feel they are more than others: supreme-feeling violent, mostly (but not only) whiteys. Just as the deformed ‘elephant’ man was abused by agressors, children are, women are, the jews were, and animals are … If you knew anything about me & my life you would know I could never be called a racist – on top of that I am anti-speciecist: several steps up from anti-racist.

        Read about how animal torturers are exactly the same ones as they who torture & abuse humans – those who use violence to animals do not stop there! Agressors are the same everywhere, wether their victims are black, white, children, women, animal – or even nature ..

        And do not judge others about their spelling: I am writing in what is not my native language .. if you would reply me in my native language with misspellings I would not judge you about your mistakes made. I wrote a defined reply up there and you didnt respond to its content; instead in 4 lines you made 4 wrong assumptions/judgements about me whilst you do not even know who I am. Apparently you didn’t even read WHAT I wrote. and that is why you misunderstood what I was saying: I compared the agressors; not the victims!

        Furthermore, don’t call people who dedicate their life to do good, a ‘devil’; that is very very wrong! You don’t know who you are speaking to – and it is like calling a woman who was raped a rapist, or a young abused child a child-abuser. The devils are those who do bad: enslavers, rapists, murderers, slaughterers, vivisectors, bullies and nazis alike … maybe you should respond to that.

        I ended with: peace to all beings – how can that make me a devil?

        NB. @ Wombat247: civila = civilian

  • Benu Bennuu

    f*** u all racists