In 1906, the Bronx Zoo Put a Black Man on Display in the Monkey House

In his first few weeks at the Bronx Zoo, Ota Benga wandered around the grounds freely. But soon, zookeepers urged Benga to play with the orangutan in its enclosure. Crowds gathered to watch.

Next the zookeepers convinced Benga to use his bow and arrow to shoot targets, along with the occasional squirrel or rat. They also scattered some stray bones around the enclosure to foster the idea of Benga being a savage.

Finally, they cajoled Benga into rushing the bars of the orangutan’s cage, and baring his sharp teeth at the patrons. Kids were terrified. Some adults were too, though more of them were just plain curious about Benga. “Is that a man?” one visitor asked.

A sign outside the cage listed Benga’s height and weight and how he was acquired. “Exhibited each afternoon during September,” it read.

Read more: Man In A Monkey Cage: The Strange Case of Ota Benga

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  4. taciturntactician reblogged this from mentalflossr and added:
    Weirdest thing I’ve read this week.
  5. poochiekins reblogged this from freakshow1313 and added:
    dats racis
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    Don’t even know what to say to this
  9. beaniebabyweightclass reblogged this from cassismycopilot and added:
    I know this is fucked up, but it’s also incredibly interesting.
  10. cloacakiss reblogged this from will-graham-i-am and added:
    I don’t know if “strange" really gets to it. It’s awful to read about these things happening under the guise that we...
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    racist people…..damn them
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    Crazy!
  23. guavas reblogged this from mentalflossr and added:
    speechless. jeez
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    Mr.Re.Mysteries More racism in the west.
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