Simon and Garfunkel the bards of the subway culture of the underground, explained in the perfect age of aquarian harmony as a backdrop showcasing a poetic lyrical lilt that "it's all happening at the zoo." What was happening at the zoo Zoology majors on a major zoological field day on a rampage where the zoo keepers are fond of rum Some animals were reactionary, some missionary and others locked in secrecy and hamsters turned on frequently. I guess they will keep us Garfunkeling and guessing, I guess and I surmise, but, one thing about a zoo is as clear as crystal. They feed our increasingly ravenous preoccupation of all things exotica animalia, from a talking horse of a different color to the racial harmony of the black and white striped zebra to the languid lanky long necked giraffes with huge heads on the ends of necks that stretch as taught as a slinky and appear as though they could reach out and touch the moon thousands of miles away and drink water from the Crater of Copernicus!
Imagine if you can, and you will in a moment, a zoo that is not only a hot bed of the exotic, but the erotic as well. A zoo housing human animals in cages and outdoor displays, for lest we forget oh superior creature, we are not eight miles higher than our animal brethren. We are all in the final analysis... animals, pure and simply mammals actually and therefore we should be in zoos on display as much as the gazelle, the alligator, the red fox and all the other creatures that excite and delight our senses. There lies in the past, and also today in the present a history of human zoos that date back to the time of the blood thirsty sacrifice happy Aztecs in south of the border Mexico. These zoos were primitive in nature but eventually reached a symphonic anthropological crescendo in Europe and America in the 19th Century. The human zoo practice is still alive today in parts of Asia, specifically on one of the Indian Ocean islands where the tribal population has been sheltered from modern times for their own safety, however, the flip side of the coin is that they don't know when the are being taken advantage of. F'rinstance, Indian travel agents are catering to rich international clients, arranging visits to this lost tribe and others that dot the ocean. The tribes people, females in particular perform as human animals dancing naked for visitors, beggin for food on hands and knees and engaging in sex acts for food. They are photographed, videotaped in degrading performances and acts of a lewd and crude nature with each other. They are chained and leashed and forced to dance and perform on command for visitors. Recently the government of India has been trying to halt this human trade but so far with little result, probably due to monetary corruption and a prevailing attitude that tribal peoples are sub-human anyway, and therefore are mere animals for display and exploitation. The same can be said for parts of Thailand with sex tours for tourists. Young boys and girls in captivity forced into prostitution and kept literally as animals.
Meanwhile, back to the Aztecs..they were the first in North America to display humans and animals together in zoos and circuses as they forced their captives from battle as well as anyone with what were considered to be abnormality afflictions such as dwarfs and albinos. (P.t. Barnum came along later!) Whole tribes that were conquered were captured and put naked on display, men, women and children, whole families in fact forced to submit to the daily cruelty of the zoo keepers and the public who would tease and torment them as though they were wild beasts, which in there eyes, they were! Male and female zoo animals were also forced to have sex with each other while the audience looked on and enjoying "this natural act of animals in the wild" and were whipped if their performance was not up to Aztec standards. Perhaps the Inca's had an inkling of what was going on in Aztec land as they too established human zoos. In both instances the zoo humans were bred as livestock to produce "puppies" where the public could watch the miracle of birth and also watch the parents bring up their pup and teach it to behave as an animal. (In the Middle Ages in Europe there were instances that humans were kept in cages with chimpanzees and the chimpanzees were the "leaders" who dominated the humans and actually would take on the submissive humans as their "mates" all this before Roddy McDowell and the Planet of the Apes. As the 19th Century progressed, human zoos were now considered a study in anthropology with no apologies to the ethnic communities that were raided for human "animals" or lied to in order to get participants for these special "negro villages" as they were called. Here Africans were diplayed in caged in or walled in arenas in their so called natural and primitive tribal state. Primarily it had the end result by many to justify the prevailing winds of belief that somehow white Western world humans were superior to the indigigenous peoples of Africa and the explosion of Darwinian dominance in form of a dictum that Negroes were somehow the missing link betwen apes and man. The humans could wear loin cloths or coverings over their genital areas, but the females where generally kept naked on top showing full breasts and nipples which in a lot of cases could also have passed at 8th Wonders of World. I'd rather fondle a tribal breast than a mummy infested Pyramid anyday!
All this was taking place at the same time that in the far reaches of the British Colonial Empire, conquered peoples of color were forced in submission as domestics and as pony pets where they would literally be hitched to carriages to pull their "masters" around. These ponies were for the most part kept in stables and treated as animals and locked into stalls until further use was needed.Many were also used in "horse" races where they ran for their Masters and in some instances pulled small carts, the precursor to sulky races.
Even in the Vatican itself, people were kept in papal slavery in the 16th Century where they kept a collection of people in a vatican zoo that included Moors, Tartars, Turks and Africans. Now that is pushing catholicism to the extreme! Forgive me father I want to fuck a human in a zoo cage! Good, my son, have at it, but when your done say ten Hail Mary's and call me in the morning. When Columbus stumbled on what was to be called America in 1492, (he hadnt founded Columbus, Ohio yet!) he brought back humans, Native Americans actually to be displayed in the royal Spanish court as further "exotica"
The logical extension of this practice was taken to the 9th Gate of Promotional Hell when PT Barnum displayed fantastic freaks of nature..Change and Eng the Siamese Twins along with former slave Joice Heth but the heyday of modern human zoos reached it's zenith in the colonial era of the late 1800's. Human zoos were all the rage from the Left Bank of Paris to the cabaret crowded cities of Germany. One enterprising merchant of African animals for zoos stepped through the looking glass and hired agents to secure Nubians from Africa and Innuits from Canada along with popular displays of Samoans..always a crowd pleaser. In 1877 in Paris the human zoo grounds were visited by over 1,000,000 paying customers. It was so popular that more sections of humans were opened up on the grounds and from 1877 to 1912. Canadian Eskimos were the fave rave of Germany's human zoos where they were kept caged next to cages and displays of wild beasts from Africa. The human zoo popularity was raging like a forest fire out of control and at both the 1878 and the 1889 Parisian Worlds Fair a Negro Village was set up with tribal Africans naked in their so called "natural" state, all 400 of them and was visited by over 28 million people. In 1906 and into the 1920's in Paris, humans were displayed in small cages in the nude and made to perform as circus animals for special matinee shows where they were brought naked into the center ring and the ringmasters with whips would have them perform tricks. This attraction brought over 34 million people in under 6 months. In the US at the 1901 Pan American Exposition Little Egypt was introduced and made to perform her bellydance for appreciative American audiences where she was photographed in exotic poses and in the nude and these were sold as postcard.souvenirs.
So the next time you hear Simon and Garfunkel sing about the happy times and happy hour at the local zoo...close your eyes and picture humans in captivity, performing for their masters and the audience who came to excite their senses with sex and sensuality...and remember...it's all happening at the human zoo.
Sex and Racism, or is it Race and Sexism It really doesn't matter they were one and the same thing as they collided head-on in colonial England and in the "republican" era of fancy pants era France. Tribal women from Africa mostly were the prized "captures" of conquest during and after the slave trade had officially ended. They were considered more as sexual objects that somehow were lower on the evolutionary scale then any other race, therefore were viewed as fair game for concubine status and as "mere animals" to be put to work or on display as an attraction, made to perform erotically and obidiently for her white owners and masters. This was the erotic era of the "human zoo" which proliferated throughout Europe where buxom tribal women and well endowed black men were placed on exhibit at expositions and other more permanent "zoo" environments in locked cages and outdoor displays.
In every society there is a stellar standout and in the society of the "human zoo animal" Sarte Baartman was the undisputed rock star of her day. She was captured in a slave raid in Africa and sold to a Dutch planter who named her Sarah and as was the custom automatically was given her masters last name as a show of ownership. When she left her village in chains, she was a ripe young 20 year old and served her master as his domestic worker and in house whore. Then in 1810 an Englishmen who specialized in providing wild animals to circuses and showmen in England bought her from her Dutch master in order to be displayed as a wild animal where she would be in a cage, naked with other tribal women he had bought and then sold to human zoos and circuses. She was then shipped to England in the hold of the ship with animals in cages while she herself was kept locked in a cage and fed when they were fed.
In England where she was first caged and shown off, she was given the name the Hottentot Venus, and the white crowds couldn't get enough of her. You might say they were Hot to Trot for the Hottentot! Her body had otwo very unique attractions as her hind end was rather large and prominent and while displayed it was used for training purposes with a strap nearly always finding it's large target much to the audiences delight. She also had an elongated labia which according to an anthropologist of the day hung clearly four inches below the vulva making for another delightfully decadent attraction. Eventually this aspect of her was covered up for the sake of propriety..not hers, but the white female audience attendees. Her master had her name changed to the more Anglo "Sarah and forced her to sign a document in which she agreed to be displayed as a zoo "animal" and had to provide domestic duties for her new English owner. Slavery itself in Great Britain had been abolished in 1807 so many abolitionists groups protested her being placed on display as an and treated in this fashion.
A liberation group was formed and some of the newspapers of the day cried "FOUL" and had raised a hue an cry that was heard throughout Englad that actually resulted in a trial where she was questioned. Whether of her own free will or under coercian she said she had agreed to be displayed and was well cared for and not beaten or sexually abused. She begged the court to allow her to perform for her owner as she had no intention of returning to Africa and her life was pleasant in London. The main argument was that she was also recieving half the gate take as her share of the profits and therefore had the right to display "herself" as much as other attractions of the day including the Irish Giant and the Irish Dwarf! A contract between her and her owner was also provided but there is some question to this day as to whether or not is was signed under duress or threat of punishment. Publicity being what it is Sarahs popularity now was enormous and the crowds were standing room only in England and Ireland where she was also put on display.
In 1814 Sarah was sold to a French animal trainer who put her on display along with wild animals throught out France but he also made her pose for scientific paintings stipped and completely nude and forced to undergo through examinations by doctors and anthropologists. She was eventually kept in a cage in a menagerie at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Soon the thrill was gone, the crowds were sparce and the money spigot was turned off. Sarah began to drink heavily and was now engaged in prostitution...probably forced into it by her French Master. Her life in France was much harsher as she was forced in public to wear a collar and chain in her cage and literally treated like an animal. Patrons could also toss food at her to eat on all fours, and were allowed to poke her with sticks or their fingers while also submittingto be beaten in her cage. African women were regarded as oversexed and that was one of the main attractions as well as the lacivious audience would have their own private wet dreams while watching her "animal" performance.
When she died, she was examined by every scientist worth their salt and some quacks as well. Her skeleton, brain and her sex organs were put on display in the Museum of Mankind in Paris where the rested in peace until 1974. It wasn't until 2002 that President Nelson Mandela requested that her remains be returned to her homeland almost 200 years from when they sailed to England. In 2002 Sartje finally went home to rest in peace in her native land. Sex and Racism...a devastating combination and sign of the times. The Hottentot Venus was not the savage at all....it was the slave trade, the slave traders and the public that went too far and were the real animals. Sartje was a human victim of injustice and one of the final victims of an abusive practice. Welcome home Sartje...and rest in piece dear lady.