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Animals, They're Just Like Us: Maybe Be Nice To Them

A campaign tries to make viewers empathize with animals by showing the shared heritage between us and other creatures.

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Animal rights organizations are faced with the challenge of constantly figuring out how to get humans to feel empathy with less powerful creatures. Two approaches seem to be the most consistent: the tug at the heartstrings (via sad-puppy-dog-face cuteness) and appeal to reason (you can’t come up with a logical reason why it’s acceptable to harm this creature, right?).

A campaign for the Queensland, Australia, branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charmingly unites the two, using pictures of animals with spookily human eyes that are gazing out at the viewer, accompanied by a series of facts aimed at getting people to notice the similarities between them and their mammalian (and avian) cousins. Did you know a pig is just as smart as a toddler? Or that man and dog share not just a best friendship but 90% of the same genetic material? Even chickens and humans have half their genetic material in common.

More than an appeal to shared genetics, it’s the facial expressions that seem to get the message across. Regardless of how similar their DNA, who could you harm a chicken who looks disappointed, a cat who’s chilled out, a pig who’s embarrassed, or a dog who’s searching for a thought? Animals may not be just like us, but when caught at the right moment (and digitally doctored), they suddenly feel that way.