Zoos pour humains ….


Human zoos (1500s- ), also known as ethnological exhibits, Negro villages or people shows (Völkerschau), showed non-Western people at zoos and fairs. They have been common in the West since the time of Columbus, but reached their height from the 1870s to the 1930s – back in the days of Joseph Conrad, Gauguin, minstrel shows and the birth of National Geographic.

They showed people from:

  • the Middle East,
  • Africa,
  • Sri Lanka,
  • the Philippines,
  • Java,
  • New Guinea,
  • the Pacific,
  • the Americas and
  • the Arctic.

Never white people.

They were especially common in

  • Germany (huge),
  • France,
  • Britain and
  • America.

Tens of millions saw them.

Ota Benga. Click on the picture to find out more about him.


  • 1896: the Cincinnati Zoo showed Sioux Indians.
  • 1899: « Savage South Africa » in Britain showed Zulus, complete with spears, shields and staged battles.
  • 1904: the St Louis world’s fair showed a « parade of evolutionary…

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