Thank You for Refusing to Look Away

Nathan Herschler, April 18, 2019

The Gorilla

When I was in third grade, my dad took us to the zoo to see monkeys. I reached the primate area first, my two sisters right behind me. Across the concrete room, dozens of kids and adults crowded around a giant window. I stood on my toes to see over their heads.

They were pointing and laughing. I thought it must be funny.

I saw a gorilla backed into a corner and looking right at us. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Every few seconds, something would fall out of her mouth. She’d pick it up, smear it on the glass, and bring it to her lips again. It took me a minute to realize she was eating her feces.

I was only eight, but I didn’t think it was funny. It didn’t seem like how a healthy animal acts. She looked broken. That’s when I started to think maybe keeping animals in cages wasn’t okay.

My Start

I loved animals before I loved anything. My first word was cow. My second word was dog. I obsessively flipped through my books of African wildlife until their bindings broke. I scrambled out of bed early on weekend mornings to catch reruns of Marty Stouffer’s Wild America on PBS.

That’s me at age 10 with my buddy Gus.

Animals have always been what brighten me.

So it doesn’t surprise anyone that I dedicated my career to protecting them.

During law school, I clerked with the litigation team for the Humane Society of the United States. Immediately after law school, I joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare and worked there for a decade. Today, I am so proud to serve as Executive Director of NEAVS. Every day, I’m inspired by our team and supporters like you who can actually change the world. Together, we can end the era of biomedical research on animals in the United States once and for all.

But it won’t be easy. A lot of people think animal testing is a complicated issue.

I used to be one of them.

I used to think a lot of the experiments on animals had to be benefiting people. While cruel, the science being done behind concrete walls and in basement laboratories across our country had to be saving people’s lives, right?

But that was bullshit.

The Truth

I eventually discovered what you, as a NEAVS supporter, already know:

  • Nearly all — 95% — of treatments successful in animals fail in human trials.

  • Two billion animals killed in U.S. research since 2000 died for no good reason.

  • What I thought was complicated isn’t so complicated.

There’s just no way to justify the devastating cost for this level of failure. For the animals who suffer and people who need real cures, this has to be unacceptable to us as a society.

We cannot look away.

Thank you for throwing the cage doors open by taking action right now.