In the late 1800s to well into the 1900s, Europeanscreated 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 human exhibits were coerced into appearing or even kidnapped. Others agreed to go on tour in return for a wage. Sometimes the human exhibits were treated cruelly, and kept as virtual prisoners in cages or behind wire fences, where they were poorly fed and housed in inadequate accommodation which did little to keep out the cold.Many ofthem died quickly,some within a year of their captivity. A large numberof visitors attendedthese exhibitions in each city daily. For example, the Parisian World Fair featured a human zoo that exhibited Black people, and34 million people were drawn tothe exhibition in just six months.
Below are several photos showing the horrible reality of people who were forced to livein 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.
A20-year-old girl from South Africa known as Sarah Saartjie Baartman was recruited to work in a Paris zoo because ofa 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 Frances many Negro Villages. It was said the villagewould often display Blacks to dehumanize them and compare them to animals.
This is another Negro Village in France. It was called TheWorld Fair, where nude or semi-nude Black women and children were presented in cages.
Black Africans are shownparticipating inarchery in 1904 in St Louis at an event whites organized called the Savage Olympics Exhibition.
A Negro village similar toPT Barnums exhibition of Joice Heth, an enslaved African-American who wasblind and almost completely paralyzed. Barnum lied to the visitors sayingshe was the 160-year-old nurse of President George Washington.
Pygmies were made to dance during numerous exhibitions to entertain visitorsat zoos in both Germany and England.
This is a Somalia village exhibitat Luna Park in St. Petersburg, Russia.
A Black African mother is shown with her child in a Negro Village.
At the Parisian World Fair, thiswas apart of the 1931 exhibitthat was so successful that it drew34 million people that year.
A Black mother and her child at a Negro Village in Germany. This exhibit was known to be very popularand was even visited byconservative statesman Otto von Bismarck.