In 1904 Ota Benga, a young Congolese "pygmy" - a person of petite stature - arrived from central Africa and was featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair. Two years later the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, 4-foot 11-inch tall man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines across the nation and in Europe.
Spectacle explores the circumstances of Ota Benga's captivity, the international controversy it inspired, and his efforts to adjust to American life. It also reveals why, decades later, the man most responsible for his exploitation would be hailed as his friend and savior while those who truly fought for Ota have been banished to the shadows of history.
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