Media: Slideshow

Ota Benga Exhibited at the Bronx Zoo

African Pygmy, Ota Benga and Chimpanzee

Ota Benga, a Pygmy from the Congo, holds a chimpanzee at the New York Zoological Park (also known as the Bronx Zoo) in 1906. This image illustrated a story in the July 1916 edition of the Zoological Society Bulletin, an official publication of the New York Zoological Society. The author of the article was Samuel P. Verner, the Presbyterian missionary who purchased Benga's freedom from slavery in Africa. Benga accompanied Verner on several trips to the United States, and in 1906 Verner arranged for Benga to move into the Primate House at the New York Zoological Society. The exhibition of a man sharing a cage with an orangutan, chimpanzees, and a parrot, created a public outcry, and lasted only a few weeks. In the bulletin article, Verner downplayed the "sensational" aspect of the exhibit and claimed, "The Zoological Park simply gave him temporary employment in feeding the anthropoid apes, and a safe and comfortable home for a short time, while I was engaged in private affairs which needed my attention after … years of absence in Africa."

Original Author: New York Zoological Society

Created: 1906

Medium: Printed photograph

Courtesy of Google Books

"Bushman Shares a Cage with Bronx Park Apes"

A September 9, 1906, story in the New York Times describes an exhibition at the Zoological Park in New York City (also known as the Bronx Zoo) in which a Congolese Pygmy named Ota Benga was placed in the same cage with an Asian orangutan, several chimpanzees, and a parrot. The headline of the story, "Bushman Shares a Cage with Bronx Park Apes," includes the sub-head, "Some Laugh Over His Antics, but Many Are Not Pleased." In the article the reporter notes,"Even those who laughed the most turned away with an expression on their faces such as one sees after a play with a sad ending…" A public backlash to the spectacle led to the closing of the exhibition by the end of September.

Original Author: The New York Times

Created: September 9, 1906

Medium: Newspaper article

Courtesy of The New York Times

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  • African Pygmy, Ota Benga and Chimpanzee

    Ota Benga, a Pygmy from the Congo, holds a chimpanzee at the New York Zoological Park (also known as the Bronx Zoo) in 1906. This image illustrated a story in the July 1916 edition of the Zoological Society Bulletin, an official publication of the New York Zoological Society. The author of the article was Samuel P. Verner, the Presbyterian missionary who purchased Benga's freedom from slavery in Africa. Benga accompanied Verner on several trips to the United States, and in 1906 Verner arranged for Benga to move into the Primate House at the New York Zoological Society. The exhibition of a man sharing a cage with an orangutan, chimpanzees, and a parrot, created a public outcry, and lasted only a few weeks. In the bulletin article, Verner downplayed the "sensational" aspect of the exhibit and claimed, "The Zoological Park simply gave him temporary employment in feeding the anthropoid apes, and a safe and comfortable home for a short time, while I was engaged in private affairs which needed my attention after … years of absence in Africa."

    Original Author: New York Zoological Society

    Created: 1906

    Medium: Printed photograph

    Courtesy of Google Books

  • "Bushman Shares a Cage with Bronx Park Apes"

    A September 9, 1906, story in the New York Times describes an exhibition at the Zoological Park in New York City (also known as the Bronx Zoo) in which a Congolese Pygmy named Ota Benga was placed in the same cage with an Asian orangutan, several chimpanzees, and a parrot. The headline of the story, "Bushman Shares a Cage with Bronx Park Apes," includes the sub-head, "Some Laugh Over His Antics, but Many Are Not Pleased." In the article the reporter notes,"Even those who laughed the most turned away with an expression on their faces such as one sees after a play with a sad ending…" A public backlash to the spectacle led to the closing of the exhibition by the end of September.

    Original Author: The New York Times

    Created: September 9, 1906

    Medium: Newspaper article

    Courtesy of The New York Times