The most dangerous animal in the world exhibit shocked zoo-goers when it turned up in the Great Ape House at the Bronx Zoo back in 1963. Positioned between the mountain gorilla and orangutan cages, visitors would peer through what looked to be cage bars and we’re shocked to see their own reflection. The exhibit was a mirror.

Positioned above it was a sign that read: “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.”

In case anyone was slow to grasp the concept a smaller sign offered more details saying: “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.”

The exhibit was the brainchild of Joseph A. Davis Jr., curator of mammals. The display made international news in its time and sparked startling realizations for many.

A simple exhibit that offered a chance for some serious reflection – as it held a mirror up to society. Quite literally.


Rogers, John G. Most Dangerous Animal. Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. April 25, 1963.

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