The Bronx Zoo has issued an apology for placing an African man in a monkey exhibit back in 1906.
Ota Benga was a central African man who was enslaved and put on display in a zoo’s monkey house with an orangutan. Now, more than 100 years later, the zoo has finally spoken out about its blatant racism. The Wildlife Conservation Society, the organization that runs that zoo, issued a formal apology for imprisoning and caging Benga for a week, TMZ reports.
“We deeply regret that many people and generations have been hurt by these actions or by our failure previously to publicly condemn and denounce them,” said the zoo in its apology. “We recognize that overt and systemic racism persists, and our institution must play a greater role to confront it.”
Benga belonged to the Mbuti people, who are the ancestors of the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo. The week of Sept. 8, 1906, Benga was encaged like an animal for several days during the week. He was forced to live in inhumane conditions, forced to live with an ape, and was only allowed to short a period of time to go outside.
Benga was only released after an outcry from a delegation of local Black churches who demanded his freedom. Afterward, he was taken in by Reverand James Gordon, who housed him in his orphanage. Unfortunately, he committed suicide 10 years later. The zoo has since condemned its two founders and is making all of its records about Benga available to the public.
Black people try to find peace today in any way you can.