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{ the houston zoo’s “the african forest” exhibit }

Shannon Joyce Prince’s “Human Zoos, Conservation Refugees, and the Houston Zoo’s The African Forest”, from last year (comments don’t seem as bad as I thought they’d be, although skimming them I did see one apologist and one use of an ableist slur):

The Houston Zoo has proudly announced a new project, The African Forest, which is set to open December 2010 if we don’t halt it.  According to the Zoo’s website, The African Forest is not just about exhibiting “magnificent wildlife and beautiful habitats.  It’s about people, and the wonderful, rich cultures that we all can share.”  Actually, The African Forest is about exhibiting and teaching inaccurate Western conceptions of African indigenous cultures in a place designed to exhibit and teach about animals.  The African Forest is also about displacement in the name of conservation.

Fairs, exhibitions, and zoos that showcase, market, or teach about Africans and other non-white peoples as though they were animals are called “human zoos.” Only non-whites are exhibited as or alongside animals. Human zoos allowed and still allow targeted non-whites to be redefined as animals in Western, European, or First World spaces in order to justify white past, current, or planned mistreatment of non-white peoples in the non-white peoples’ homelands.

(essay originally seen on stuffwhitepeopledo but I don’t trust that site anymore)

Anyway, so this was last year.  The exhibit is now open.  I dunno if it’s too late to sign the petition but it can’t hurt to try.  And it’s certainly not too late to contact the zoo.  Here’s the web page for the exhibit at the Houston Zoo’s website, and here’s the zoo’s contact page.

Some more background info on the zoo and protest actions taken against the exhibit (comments section has some bad ones though).

Thread about it on zoochat — mostly really awful and full of racist apologist fail.

(I really regret not signal-boosting Prince’s essay earlier (like, I dunno, LAST YEAR) but I kept getting sidetracked.)