The Illustrated London News ran this story about the Bronx Zoo in New York City on June 8, 1963. The story was regarding an exhibition at the gorilla house which told the visitors:
“You are looking at the most dangerous animal in the world. It alone of all the animals that ever lived can exterminate (and has) entire species of animals. Now it has the power to wipe out all life on earth.” It was entitled “The Most Dangerous Animal In The World” in red and had the previous message inscribed below it.
This text was later changed and stated: “This animal, increasing at a rate of 190,000 every 24 hours, is the only creature that has ever killed off entire species of other animals. Now it has achieved the power to wipe out all life on Earth.”
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The New York City zoo placed this exhibit between the Orangutans and the Mountain Gorilla cages. The New York Zoo visitors saw this title and it appeared to exhibit another aged animal. When the people peeped in, it had a barren mirror and they saw their own faces reflecting back.
It was the humans who were “The Dangerous” animals.
The Aim Of The New York City Zoo’s “The Most Dangerous Animal in the World” Exhibit
This exhibit was aimed to educate humans about their powers, some even agreed with this message. The dangers that this “Dangerous Animal” presented included complete control over other species and the planet.
The goal of “The Most Dangerous Animal In The World” was to bring to attention the massive rate of destruction dealt by the humans to the homes of other species. Another sign in the New York Zoo read: “In 20 years, almost all will be gone and their wildlife lost forever.”
The Zoo encouraged the conservation of wildlife and reduce the massive levels of deforestation and destruction of natural habitats.
The New York Zoo also focussed on propagating rare species and intended to release them into the wilderness. If there was “no wild” then this would not be possible.
Another message read: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught.”
The Illustrated London News article on “The Most Dangerous Animal In The World” read:
In the Great Apes House at the New York Zoo is to be seen an exhibit of great interest and one which speaks for itself. The exhibit in question is that of “The Most Dangerous Animal in the World” and it is handled by the Zoo authorities with no unsubtle deftness. Between the Orang-Utan and Mountain Gorilla cages are a compartment with bars and the legend which can be read in the photograph above: visitors, attracted by the proclamation at the top of the cage, stop and peer into the cage.
What they see is, without a doubt, the most dangerous animal in the world, and the frequent comment by visitors is “It’s true!” for they are looking into a barred mirror. And there is considerable truth in this simple, but effective statement that is made.
Image credit: Garry Winogrand