On Wednesday, The Undefeated published an article examining the harrowing practice of using black babies as bait to lure in alligators and crocodiles. While this awful operation started during slavery, it didn't end there, extending all the way into the 20th century. A Washington Times article published on June 18, 1908, details how a zookeeper used "two plump pickaninnies" to lure the alligators and crocodiles at the New York Zoological garden from their winter quarters to their summer housing.
It was a keeper’s idea to bait the saurians with pickaninnies, knowing as he did their epicurean fondness for the black man. So as two small colored children happened to drift through the reptile house among the throng of visitors he pressed them into service.
The two crocodiles and all but four of the twenty-five alligators wobbled out as quick as they could after the ebony mites, who darted around the tank just as the pursuing monsters fell with grunts of chagrin into the water, disappointed of their prey.
The practice inspired such postcards as this one and the featured image. Credit: AuthenticHistory
It gets much worse from here. The Undefeated also mention a Miami News Time article titled "Black Babies Used as Alligator Bait in Florida." In the provided video, a man from Sanford, Florida recounts his grandfather's words about how slave infants were sacrificed to catch alligators, sparing no detail.
The slaves who had babies, they would steal the babies during the course of the day, sometimes when their mothers weren't watching... Some would be infants, some would be a year old; he said some would be toddlers. He said they would grab these children and take them down to the swamp and leave them in pens like little chicken coops.
They would go down there at night, take these babies and... tie them up, put a rope around their neck and around their torso, around here, and tie it tight. They'd be screaming... What they were doing would help them to chum the water. He said when they would throw the babies in tied to this rope, he said in a matter of minutes, he said, the alligators were on them. He said the alligator would clamp his jaws on that child. As a matter of fact, once he clamped on them he was really swallowed. He said you couldn't see anything but the rope! Some would be infants, some would be a year old, toddlers, some would be infants.
Head over to The Undefeated to read more.
Feature image via Authentic History