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The Human Zoo of Saint Kilda...

On the 29th of August 1930, the last of the Saint Kildans (just thirty six old people and children) left the island at the end of the world to be evacuated to Scotland. The community had been decimated by the emigration of the young (who headed towards towns on the continent or to America and Australia), by missionaries, ethnologists, Scottish settlers, philanthropists of all kinds, the first tourist greedy for anthropological curiosities, the first epidemics imported by visitors which hit hard in a community that had never lived with immunity protection and ... the mirror.

For the first time in their history, hundreds or thousands of years old, they let the fires die in the hearth after having symbolically scattered a fistful of oats on the floor.

They also left behind them their ancient bibles open at The Book of Exodus having realized that their departure had something biblical and final about it.

When they landed on Scottish ground, they were followed by millions of curious eyes, cameras and flashes and, as they told it, felt like residents of a zoo; the human zoo of Saint Kilda heading towards extinction.

In 1931, the MacLeod clan, the stronghold of Dunvegan and owners of Saint Kilda, sold the island to the Marquis of Bute who donated it to The National Trust for Scotland in 1957. Saint Kilda became a protected area, a sort of National Park.

St. Kilda, a heritage of humanity...

The same year, in the middle of the Cold War, the British Defence Minister rented a few acres of land to install radomes and radars, in order to prevent an incursion of enemy nuclear missiles. The army wanted to raze everything to the ground to make the island more strategic and functional. Finally, they installed their boredom, their Coca-Cola and juke boxes in corrugated-iron huts in Village bay.

But oil-producing companies were already waiting to get to work in this geographical zone, and were considering opportunities to install their equipment on the island close to their latest drilling fields. In 1997, permits were issued to explore and research 57,000 square kilometres of sea bed close to the archipelago. Ecologists, ornithologists and Greenpeace militants were quick to react.

In 1998 they demanded that the archipelago be classed on the list of threatened humanity heritage sites. Saint Kilda is not only one of the most extraordinary ornithological reserves in this part of the world, it is also surrounded by a sea-bed populated by many endangered mammals.

Today, Saint Kilda is classed by UNESCO as a humanity heritage site as much for its vanished civilization and the sites left behind as for the fantastic ornithological and marine colonies which inhabit the archipelago and its sea bed.

promoted by:


Federal State Government of NRW, Germany
City of Duesseldorf
Kunst- und Kulturstiftung of the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf Kunststiftung NRW
Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V.
Stiftung Van Meeteren
Vysoká škola
múzických umení