It is a dark chapter in the story of which you may have never heard of it: until the year 1958, people were exhibited in so-called human zoos. – Yes, that’s right. The often fenced areas were often placed between animal cages. Occasionally with the note: “Please do not feed.”
Already Christopher Columbus abducted hundreds of Native Americans to Europe and exhibited them on Spanish fairs. Most natives did not survive this crossing.
The “heyday” of human zoos was heralded by the pet trader, the German Carl Hagenbeck in 1874, when he presented his first folk exhibition to the world.
For his peoples shows, he shipped “exotic” – looking people along with animals and objects to Europe and built zoo worlds that had little or nothing to do with reality.
Thus he activated already anchored clichés. The zoo visitors were interested in “wild”, “uncivilized” people in their “natural” environment (or what they thought was just that). Hagenbeck staged exactly that. He made a lot of money when he showed exposed women, pregnant women or people with physical deformities.
Scientists of that time used these unworthy and inhumane human zoos for their purposes.
They introduced the race doctrine in which people of white-skinned were given a place of honor and other cultures were considered inferior. In addition, they played colonialism in the hands. The false and degrading accounts were used to explain why one had to “save” these cultures and “protect” themselves from them.
To put people behind bars symbolizes power and superiority.
The big deal with the suffering of others
Like wild animals today, people were seen as unemotional exhibits.
Even if the human-animal comparison needs to be handled sensitively, a look at the history of zoos may make it clear how reprehensible it is to earn with the suffering of sentient beings.
Even today, animals are staged in unrealistic prisons – and that throughout their lives. They also want to lead a self-determined life in freedom. In captivity they are exposed to severe mental suffering. Many develop stereotypes or mutilate themselves.
We also believe that zoos with animals must finally close, because these undignified and unsuitable conditions do not fit into an enlightened and compassionate society. So we know how intelligent and highly sensitive animals are.
It can not be that our own entertaining conversation is still about the lives and suffering of others today.
My comment: The owners of the zoos today defend their business by arguing that it serves education and research.
Their false arguments are so hollow, in fact false and implausible, that they can not convince a single person with reason and education.
It is only embarrassing and tragic that they find again and again some dull mentally weak proletarians who visit these prisons.
In addition, it requires a large dose of stupidity and indifference that one parent selects the zoo as an educational site for his offspring, makes selfies with the animals, and teaches his children that for these animals the only way of life is captivity, monotony, one tight cell and the degradation of their existence to show objects.
We can only change the future if we learn from the past.
And if human zoos are now a thing of the past, animal zoos still exist today, showing that our dealings with the “others” are still rooted in the fascist ideology of the stronger.
My best regards, Venus