Well I'll be a monkey's uncle...
August 25, 2005 8:36 PM   Subscribe

The Human Zoo exhibit at the London Zoo aims to "demonstrate the basic nature of man as an animal and examine the impact that Homo sapiens have on the rest of the animal kingdom." The public takes part in the display (fig leaves required). "Over four days the 'animals' will be cared for by the zoo's keepers and 'kept entertained through various forms of enrichment...'" There are even some photos of them monkeying around.
posted by Moral Animal (17 comments total)
it reminds me of when they would exhibit "exotic" people of other colors/cultures in zoos way back when, but it also helps show our animal-ness, which is necessary. But i think there are better, less exhibitionist ways to do that (and reality shows already do it)
posted by amberglow at 8:45 PM on August 25, 2005

Sorry, I can't see how this is anything more than rediculous. We all know what humans look like and how they behave. I would only go in order to annoy the people in the exibit the same way I've seen humans annoy animals.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:47 PM on August 25, 2005

Woo, that was some spelling error I just made... Will I ever be held in high regard again?
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:49 PM on August 25, 2005

What spelling error - "recockulous"? Looks fine to me... Oh, you meant "exibit". Yeah, that's spelled wrong.
posted by Moral Animal at 8:52 PM on August 25, 2005

I like this to the extent that it does remind people that humans are just another species (the kind that put other species in zoos), but I don't like the obvious acting: they're not real people, they're people imitating chimpansees.
It would be better if they were just sitting there watching TV or talking on cell phones.
posted by easternblot at 9:00 PM on August 25, 2005

I think it's kind of strange to show humans being cared for by keepers in a zoo. That might be what the government has turned us all into, but it's hardly man's natural state in evolutionary history.
posted by MonkeyC at 9:01 PM on August 25, 2005

Doesn't this happen about every two years, somewhere in the world? I want to say there was a similar exhibit in Asia recently, and one in Germany or the Netherlands as well.
posted by Vidiot at 9:14 PM on August 25, 2005

i don't understand the point of this; it seems to be to be yet another form of reality tv, except live.

if we really wanted to examine the animal nature of humans, wouldn't we do something more along the lines of putting a male and female child in a controlled environment, giving them sustenance until they're capable of catching live food (since they wouldn't have parents to feed them), and seeing how they develop?

how long would it take them to learn how to capture food, or would they starve?
how long would it take for them to figure out the concept of mating?
would they figure out how to make fire, or reinvent the wheel?
would they develop a language, social constructs, or a new religion?
if humanity were given another chance to start over from the beginning with a clean slate, would we do things any differently?

i guess it would be pretty sick to raise generations of children for the purpose of exhibition for a few thousand years, but as far as i'm concerned the "human zoo" concept as it has been implemented here is just dumb.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2005

How freakin' old is this idea? I'm certain this has been done before – at least 10-15 years ago. I remember seeing a story about it on the teev and everything.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:32 PM on August 25, 2005

Hey, I'd hang out outdoors nekkid for a few weeks for fun if I had the time... (especially if the chicks were hot)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:48 PM on August 25, 2005

Does this mean bevets is taking a trip to london to deny that the humans are animals?
posted by jmgorman at 9:56 PM on August 25, 2005

What's with the fake fig-leaf bikinis? What culture ever wore those?
posted by Joeforking at 11:32 PM on August 25, 2005

It won't be a real experiment unless they keep them there for months and months until they're half mad with boredom, sick with apathy, and covered in sores - just like the pathetic bears that no doubt used to occupy those quarters.
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:56 AM on August 26, 2005

it reminds me of when they would exhibit "exotic" people of other colors/cultures in zoos way back when,

I was just reading about Ota Benga last night. He was a Chirichiri pygmy from equatorial Africa who was brought to America along with 8 others to be displayed at the St Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. After the fair he went home but chose to return to America with Reverend Verner, a missionary. Upon arriving in New York, the zoo offered to house and feed Ota while Verner looked for work.

Ota Benga was housed in the monkey house where his duties were to practise shooting bow and arrows and wrestle with an orangutan named Dohong. He was advertised as an exhibit to be displayed to the public every afternoon during September 1906. He was hugely popular, drawing thousands.

His life post-exhibit was not happy. He was sent to the colored orphanage, then to the Virginia Theological Seminary and College. He quit to work in a tobacco factory and killed himself 4 years later.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:48 AM on August 26, 2005

They look way too calm in that exhibit.
And what's with the frigging hula hoop?
posted by Radio7 at 9:03 AM on August 26, 2005

The book was better:

The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.Desmond Morris
posted by cenoxo at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2005

yup Secret--there were many like that, and it wasn't even that long ago.

it's true, cenoxo--all they'd have to do is replace an outside wall at the Central Park Zoo with bars and a label (altho 5th ave around there is not the most exciting street). That would work better, i think.
posted by amberglow at 5:52 PM on August 26, 2005

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