Mbye Otabenga the father of two children was a Mbuti (Congo pygmy) man, known for being featured in an exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis Missouri and in a human zoo at the Bronx zoo. Benga was purchased from African slave traders by missionary Samuel Philips Verner, a businessman searching for Africans for the exhibition. Benga was allowed to walk the grounds before he was exhibited in the zoo’s monkey house.
After 114 years the Organization that runs Bronx zoo has apologized for racism in the zoo’s past, for putting central African man (Democratic Republic of Congo), Benga on display in a monkey house for several days in the park to attract visitors.
“In the name of equality, transparency and accountability, we must confront our organization historic role in promoting racial injustice as we advance our mission to save wildlife and wild places”.
The conservation society officials have also condemned the “eugenics based, pseudoscientific racism” promoted by two of its founders Madison Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn.
Robert Stuart MacArthur, spokesperson for a delegation for black Churches petitioned New York City Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. for his release from the zoo. Later, Ota Benga was released to the custody of James M. Gordon who was supervising the Howard Coloured Orphan Asylum in Brooklyn. Benga was treated well over there and tutored in English and worked in a tobacco factory at Lynchburg, Virginia.
He wanted to come back to Africa but his plans failed as a result of the World War I. All ships were stopped from moving, Ota Benga fell into depression and committed suicide with a gun. He was buried at White Rock Cemetery at Lynchburg, Virginia.