Human Zoo

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Human Zoos were public exhibits of humans as if they were animals, very popular between the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe and the United States.

During those years, colonialism in Europe was at its highest point, and due to the curiosity of some Europeans to see what the inhabitants of the overseas colonies were like, the Human Zoos were created, which showed people from Africa, America, Asia and Oceania in recreations of their places of origin so that Europeans could see their behaviors, as if they were animals. Apart from indigenous peoples, Human Zoos also occasionally included people with fictional disabilities or Europeans who practiced a lifestyle considered more primitive.

In most cases, Europeans kidnapped people from other countries or made deals or exchanges with people to give them indigenous or people with disabilities.

Upon arrival in Europe, people were introduced to recreations of their original habitats and forced to entertain the public visiting the zoos. On many occasions, zoo owners forced people to engage in behaviors that did not originate from them (for example, some Australian Aborigines were forced to behave like cannibals). Also, zoo owners tended to mistreat and humiliate people, with torture, racism, and sexual harassment.

According to some people, the function of these human zoos was to show the supremacy of Europeans over other peoples, in addition to serving as support for colonialism and encouraging racism.