Old Photo: A man suffocated by feces in a corner of the European Human Zoo, the famous Camel Girl.
This is a corner of the 19th-century European “Human Zoo.” As the name suggests, the “Human Zoo” was a zoo for Europeans to observe different races, but instead of animals, humans were exhibited.
This “Human Zoo” originated from the slave trade and flourished in the 19th century. The zoo mainly displayed different races captured by Europeans from around the world, mainly black people, indigenous Indians from various tribes, Australian Aboriginals, and indigenous people from Pacific islands. People with different clothing, tattoo totems, and skin colors were all objects for Europeans to observe in the “Human Zoo.”
These captured people were usually presented in family units to showcase their daily lives to those who came to observe, and were required to undress, dress, and tattoo in public, and perform difficult acrobatics under the demands of the zoo workers. Countless people died in the “Human Zoo.”
They also fabricated some eye-catching gimmicks, imposing non-existent customs on these indigenous people, making them eat “exotic” foods or sharpen their teeth. Removing their clothes to show their bodies was just the basic operation, in order to highlight the civilization of Europeans.
This is how Europeans claimed to be the representatives of civilization every day, but did such inhumane things that pushed the limits of human morality. They accused others of being barbaric, but did more barbaric things themselves.”
The photo shows the famous “Camel Girl” – Ella Harper. During the era of the “Freak Show,” Harper was a well-known star in the United States because she suffered from a severe congenital knee joint dislocation, a knee deformity.
People with this condition have knees that bend backward and cannot perform knee flexion exercises like normal people. However, they can usually walk upright because the angle of the backward bend is usually not too large.
But Harper’s symptoms were very severe. The angle of her knee bending was too large, which prevented her from walking upright, and she could only crawl on all fours.
In 1886, Harper joined the “Nickel Plate Circus.” During each performance, Ella would appear on stage with a camel, which led to her later stage name “Camel Girl.”
In the late 19th century, Harper left the circus and returned to her own life. In 1905, she married a teacher named Robert. In 1921, the Camel Girl, Ella Harper, died of rectal cancer and was buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.
The other photo shows the colon of a patient with constipation, which is 1.8 meters long and contains 36 pounds of feces. It is currently preserved in the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, USA. The original owner of this colon was a man named John, an American who died from being suffocated due to severe constipation.
John was born in 1892 with a congenital megacolon, which made bowel movements extremely difficult for him since childhood. He received various treatments but due to the limitations of medical technology at the time, doctors could only give him enemas but not any effective treatments.
As John grew older, his condition worsened. By the age of 16, he could not defecate for more than a month. This condition became increasingly severe, and his belly became larger and larger. In order to make a living, he joined the circus and participated in freak shows, where he was called the “Balloon Man” or the “Human Windbag.”
By the time John was 45 years old, he had completely lost the ability to defecate. He persisted for three years without any bowel movements and unfortunately passed away. After his death, his body was dissected, and this 36-pound colon was removed and preserved as a specimen, which is now on display at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.
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