Ota Benga

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Ota Benga (circa 1883 – March 20, 1916) was a Congolese Mbuti pygmy known for being featured in a controversial human zoo exhibit at New York City's Bronx Zoo in 1906. Benga came to the United States through the action of businessman and missionary Samuel Phillips Verner. Under contract from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Verner negotiated Benga's release from slave traders in 1904. He had been captured by slavers after the Force Publique attacked his village, killing his wife and two children. Benga was featured in an anthropology display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition later in 1904. After he had nearly two years of travel, including a return trip to Africa, Benga was later to be caged at the Bronx Zoo where he came to be "exhibited" in the zoo's Monkey House as part of a display intended to promote the concepts of human evolution and scientific racism.

The St. Louis Republic newspaper reported on the exhibit on March 6, 1904 stating that " represented the lowest form of human development." Newspapers wrote sensationalized articles in order to attract zoo goers to the "exhibit". On May 5, the Republic reported that a leader of the expedition narrowly escaped being eaten alive by cannibals. Ota Benga was encouraged to carry an orangutan around the cage like a father holding a small child. "Benga", one newspaper reporter wrote, "was...
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