Curious George Reimagined

Nathan Herschler, May 9, 2019

When I close my eyes, I can see Oliver opening his for the first time.

I remember my son sneaking his first piece of bacon at my sister’s house when he was three, immediately throwing up, and committing himself to a lifetime of vegetarianism. (I haven’t dissuaded him from his decision.)

I have two kind, wonderful children who love animals. Oliver is now six. Isabelle is four. Their birthdays, both in June, are coming up. Then they’re one year closer to becoming full-fledged adults. Time absolutely flies. (That’s two bird references in a row for those counting.)

One of the joys of my life is sharing my love for animals with Oliver and Isabelle. In the world of children, animals are everywhere. Sometimes even where they shouldn’t be…

Exhibit A: I read Curious George to my kids, and it wasn’t the heartwarming story I remembered from my childhood.

  • George was forcibly taken from his jungle home, and presumably from his family, by the Man in the Yellow Hat.

  • On the way to the U.S., George almost drowned.

  • There, George was kept in a city apartment.

  • And the happy ending? George got to live caged in a zoo.

When I was little, I didn’t notice any of this. But I sure as shit recognized the problems with this story as an adult. (I want to rename the book Curious George: The Story of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Chain.)

As a family, we talk through the problems in stories like Curious George and find beautiful alternatives filled with strong, kind, empathetic, funny, resilient, and sometimes magical animals.

Simba and Nala from The Lion King. Make Way for Ducklings. Winnie the Pooh’s whole gang.

I believe children love animals intrinsically because they can see their emotional lives reflected back at them. Because they love and connect with animals.

It’s a connection NEAVS supporters never outgrow.

This passion for animals is at the heart of NEAVS’ work with young people to end animal experimentation.

(From Winnie the Pooh to my favorite German theoretical physicist…)

“Scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” —Max Planck

I find so much hope in young generations. I’m excited about our humane education materials for students and our grassroots organizing training we do with student advocates at universities around the country.

It’s time to ensure the next generation accepts a truth that is already self-evident—animal experimentation is a horrible relic of the past that has no place in their future.

TELL ME YOUR STORY: What are some ways you work with your children to create a compassionate generation?