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June 19, 2018

20 Historic Photos of Africans in European Zoos From the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Only in 1935-36 in Europe were closed the last cells with blacks in zoos - in Basle and Turin. Before this time white people willingly looked at blacks in captivity (as well as at the Indians and Eskimos).

Already in the 16th century Africans were brought to Europe as exotic, much like the animals of the new open land - chimpanzees, llamas and parrots. But until the 19th century blacks lived primarily in the courts of rich people, illiterate commoners could not see them even in books.

That all changed in the modern era - when the majority of Europeans do not only learned to read, but was emancipated to the point that they that has requested the same comfort that the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy had.

In 1880s the zoos have become filled with exotic animals from the colonies and also with negroes - eugenics ranked them as the simplest representatives of the fauna.

The only excuse for the Europeans can be the fact that many whites up to the early 20th century really did not understand the difference between the black man and the apes. It's well known that Bismarck onse came to look at the African in Berlin Zoo who has been placed in a cage with a gorilla: Bismarck really asked to show him where in fact a human in this cage.

By the early 20th century Africans were kept in zoos in Basel and Berlin, Antwerp and London, and even in Russia Warsaw. Most often zoo keeper placed in the cells so-called "Ethnographic village", when in the cages were placed several black families. They walked there in the national costumes and led a traditional lifestyle - digging something with a help of primitive tools, woving mats, cooking on a fire.

However, the traditional African way of life was not invented for the European winter. According to the data of the Hamburg zoo, only between 1908 and 1912 twenty-seven black people died here during the exposition.



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