World human zoos

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World human zoos
World human zoos

Human Zoos - Paris International Colonial Exhibition, Barnum Circus, Madison Grant Exhibition.

human zoos

The predecessors of human zoos, which were very popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the West, were numerous attempts by Europeans to bring local aborigines from overseas voyages with them. Such zoos were especially common in Germany, where indigenous people in Africa were often caged with monkeys to show their "common ancestry". But we will tell only about the most famous of them.

Barnum Circus

The circus of American showman Phineas Taylor Barnum was probably the most famous circus of the 19th century in the United States. The enterprising Barnum began his ascent to the Olympus of show business by showing the public an elderly Negro slave Joyce Heth (the first show took place on February 25, 1836). For this issue, the "king of swindle" (this is how Phineas Barnum was dubbed by the 20th century media) came up with the following advertising move: he presented a black woman as George Washington's nanny. Success was assured. Unfortunately - and maybe fortunately - Joyce Heth died a year later, but Barnum did not think to despair: in his circus, he began to show Siamese twins, midgets, the wolf-man Fedor Yevtishchev and even the mermaid Fiji - a skillful forgery made by himself Barnum.

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Madison Grant's Zoo

Madison Grant, an American lawyer known for his writings on eugenics, was the head of the New York Zoological Society and in 1906 exhibited one of the Congolese pygmies named Ota Benga at the Bronx Zoo (the largest zoo in North America and one of the largest menageries in world), in the same cage with monkeys and a parrot.


The representative of "scientific racism", Madison Grant believed that from the point of view of evolution, Africans are closer to monkeys than Europeans (today, as you know, it is purebred Africans who are considered the most "pure" representatives of Homo sapiens, in which there are neither Neanderthal genes nor Denisovan genes - NS).

Fortunately, the exhibition sparked protests from the city's clergy and was closed just two days after it opened. Nevertheless, the incident caused a very wide public outcry (a large number of people managed to visit the "exhibition"), and the appearance of the unfortunate Ota Beng in public for a long time was accompanied by screams and hooting.

International Colonial Exhibition in Paris

Today it is an abandoned and shameful place, but at one time the Exposition coloniale demonstrated the "achievements" of French colonialism to many millions of tourists.

Exposition coloniale internationale was opened on May 6, 1931 and worked for only six months, nevertheless, about 33 million (!) Tourists from all over the world managed to visit it. Prominent religious figure Elizabeth Clare, who proclaimed herself a prophet, called the exhibition "the most spectacular colonial extravaganza ever staged in the West."

The exposition was located in the Bois de Vincennes - on the eastern outskirts of Paris. Today, only ruins remain of it, although some buildings have nevertheless been preserved and moved to other places. The Colonial Museum is also open here.


The "exhibits" of the exhibition were living people - residents of Senegalese villages (Senegal is a state in West Africa) and other regions of the African continent, taken to Paris in order to "demonstrate" to the public the structure of their life. To do this, they had to recreate their homes, huts and temples in the Vienna Woods. Thus, on the territory of the Exposition coloniale, six villages with different architecture and way of life were rebuilt.

Paradoxically, the exhibition was organized to show how “loyal” and “democratic” France is in relation to the inhabitants of its colonies.

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