Human Zoo: A Shocking History of Public Exhibitions of Humans [18+]
Human zoos, also called ethnological expositions, were 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century public exhibitions of humans, usually in a so-called natural or primitive state. The people were from Africa or America. The displays often emphasized the cultural differences between Western civilization and non-European peoples.
The idea of a human zoo has gained a lot of popularity in 1870s. Exhibitions of humans took place in various European and American cities. People in most cases were kept in cages, sometimes in a fenced area. They were in the original clothing or naked.
The concept of the human zoo has not completely disappeared. A Congolese village was displayed at the Brussels 1958 World’s Fair. An African village, intended as a craft and cultural festival, was held in Augsburg Zoo in Germany in July 2005, and was subject to widespread criticism. In August 2005, London Zoo displayed four human volunteers wearing fig leaves (and bathing suits) for four days. In 2007, Adelaide Zoo ran a Human Zoo exhibition which consisted of a group of people who, as part of a study exercise, had applied to be housed in the former ape enclosure by day, but then returned home by night.
1. Igorrotes on show at Coney Island, in the summer of 1905.
2. A young Igorrote girl at Coney Island.
3. 1904, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
4. Indigenous people are shown participating in archery in 1904 in St. Louis at an event whites organized called the “Savage Olympics Exhibition.”
5. African women on display.
6. The businessman Maurice Maitre alongside Selknam group in the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889. In the picture he basically looks like a lion tamer.
7. Young Black girl is fed by the white spectators, Brussels, Belgium, 1958.
8. A mother and her child are being displayed at a “Negro Village” in Germany. This exhibit was known to be very popular and was even visited by Otto von Bismarck.
9. Ota Benga, a human exhibit at Bronx Zoo, 1906.
10. The idea of a “Negro Village” was most popular in Germany, where Social Darwinism was widely accepted.
11. An advertising poster for a Human Zoo in Germany.
12. Ashanti Exhibition at the Retiro Parc, Madrid, 1897.
13. Members of the Deutsche Afrika-Schau, 1938.
14. Opening of the Philippine Exhibition, Madrid, 1887.
15. Philippine Exhibition, Madrid, 1887.
16. One of the many human zoos in France.
17. A “Negro village”.
18. Paris’s human zoo, called Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale.
19. Germany’s “Negro Village” highlights the inhumane treatment of the people on display there, with only a chainlink fence separating the village’s prisoners from the outside world.
20. Exhibiting captured Asian and African people in makeshift natural habitats became a popular occurrence.
21. The 1931 Parisian World Fair also fed into the public’s desire to see exotic cultures kept at an arm’s length.