In a busy Belgian zoo, a crowd of eager onlookers strain to see over a wooden fence. Inside the enclosure, a popular exhibit wanders listlessly around. This isn’t a mighty elephant or a towering giraffe, though. Instead, the occupant of the attraction is one of the last examples of a truly shocking trend.
Although the idea of exhibiting people for money may seem abhorrent today, the concept of human zoos has existed since at least the 16th century. Back then, Cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici was known for having an assortment of human beings of various races on display in the Vatican.