A century after Ota Benga was exhibited in the Bronx Zoo Monkey House, the episode has been widely distorted by omission, half-truths, or outright deception. Not only has Benga’s captor, the self-described American explorer Samuel Verner, been widely depicted as his friend and savior, but his true saviors have languished in obscurity. Fortunately, the true story of Ota Benga’s tragic sojourn from the Congo to the United States can be reconstructed by returning to hundreds of documents stored in numerous archives across the United States.

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