10 Pictures Of Europe’s Infamous Human Zoos


10 Pictures Of Europe’s Infamous Human Zoos

10 Pictures Of Europe's Infamous Human Zoos
10 Pictures Of Europe’s Infamous Human Zoos

Believe it or not, but there was actually a time when human zoos were the main attraction at European fairs. People used to come from all around the world to see these enslaved people living together, in cages, with animals.

Countries like France, Germany and Belgium were leaders when it came to putting on a show for visitors who came to see the human zoos. These infamous places were so popular, as many as 18 million people came to visit the World Fair held in Paris in 1889!

Approximately 400 Aboriginals and Africans were ‘on display’ for large crowds of people from all corners of the planet. These zoos became a thing at the beginning of the 1800’s and grew to become quite a popular attraction by the mid 1900’s. Shortly after, they became illegal.

10 Pictures Of Europe's Infamous Human Zoos
10 Pictures Of Europe’s Infamous Human Zoos

Although Europe started this ‘trend’, in 1906, the US ‘caught up’ and even had a Congolese woman named Ota Benga on display at the Bronx Zoo.

She was kept in cages with animals and was even forced to carry apes and wrestle with orangutans. The New York Times reported at the time that “few expressed audible objection to the sight of a human being in a cage with monkeys as companions.”

Human zoos went out of style after World War II and Adolf Hitler was actually the one to ban these horrific places. The world’s last human exhibition took place in Belgium in 1958.

Below, a mother and her child were held displayed at a “Negro Village” in Germany. This exhibit was so popular, even Otto von Bismarck visited once.

Africans, Asians, and Indigenous people were often caged and displayed in a so called “natural habitat.”


The 1931 Paris World Fair drew in 34 million people.

Pygmies were forced to dance in order to entertain the zoo visitors.

Indigenous people were shown practicing archery in 1904, at an event organized in St Louis, called the “Savage Olympics Exhibition.”

Three women were exhibited in a Paris zoo due to a genetic characteristic known as steatopygia – which is an accumulation of large amounts of fat on the buttocks, especially as a normal condition in the Khoikhoi and other peoples of arid parts of southern Africa.