Have you ever heard of a human zoo? A human zoo was a place (and yes, they really existed in the past) where people were kept for display, just like animals are kept in zoos. The displays often emphasized the cultural differences between Europeans of Western civilization and non-European peoples or with other Europeans who practiced a lifestyle deemed more primitive. Some of them placed indigenous populations in a continuum somewhere between the great apes and Europeans.
Human zoos were quite popular, as many of them were found around Europe during the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. However, they weren’t the only continent that liked to expose humans in this way. North America, specifically the U.S, had their fair share of human zoos; however they stepped up their game from the Europeans.
Ethnological expositions are sometimes criticized and ascertained as highly degrading and racist, depending on the show and individuals involved. It was obviously one of the most horrendous things one can imagine, and these pictures of human zoos are bound to terrify you!
1. These Selk’Nam natives were exhibited in human zoos while being taken to Europe.