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Human Zoos - a Shameful Stain in Human History

Antonia R.Antonia R.
Human Zoo
Image: NewsCnrsFr

The attitudes toward people of a different racial background was indeed horrifying at the start of the 20th century. And even though we've made significant progress when it comes to equal human rights, blacks lacked even the most basic humane empathy just several decades ago.

One of the biggest attractions at the time were the so-called human zoos. They included exhibits of black people who were taken from their native villages in Africa and locked in cages like animals.

Human Exhibit
Image: theplaidzebra

The goal of such exhibits was to stress the primitive nature of blacks, and they were sometimes placed alongside monkeys, to demonstrate the similarities between them.

The enclosures sometimes held entire families. They were forced to lead their traditional way of life, despite being locked up.

A great many of these people were dressed in their traditional clothing. They dug with primitive instruments, made their own fire and prepared food even during the freezing winter season, for the amusement of the Europeans.

Caged Humans
Image: theplaidzebra

Belgium and France had the greatest number of such expositions and visitors often brought food which they threw at the caged people.

Human zoos were incredibly popular, receiving about 18 million visitors throughout the course of their existence.

Among the living exhibits was the grandfather of retired soccer player Christian Karembeu, who had been living in the Paris zoo at the beginning of the last century. These degrading attractions existed until the 30s of the 20th century, with some of the last being in Basel and Turin.