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by: G. Thorpe
by: G. Thorpe
In the late 1800s to well into the 1900s, Europeans created “human zoos” in cities like Paris; Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; Barcelona, Spain; London; Milan; Warsaw, Poland; St Louis; and New York City. These were popular human exhibits where whites went to watch Black people who were on display. The Black people were usually forced to live behind gates and in cages similar to animals in a zoo today.
Some of the Black people were kidnapped and brought to be exhibited in the human zoos. Many of them died quickly, some within a year of their captivity. A large number of visitors attended these exhibitions in each city daily. For example, the Parisian World Fair featured a human zoo that exhibited Black people, and 34 million people were drawn to the exhibition in just six months.
Below are several photos showing the horrible reality of Black people who were forced to live in human zoos.
This is a “Peoples Show” in Brussels, Belgium, where the young Black girl is fed by the white spectators.
Congolese pygmy 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.
A 20-year-old girl from South Africa known as Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman was recruited to work in a Paris zoo because of a genetic characteristic known as steatopygia — protuberant buttocks and elongated labia. Whites went to the zoo to look at her buttocks and at other naked Black women with the same shape.
This is one of France’s many “Negro Villages.” It was said the village would often display Blacks to dehumanize them and compare them to animals.