This summer, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex introduced a new traveling exhibit, “An Unlikely Refugee: The story of a python named George” to Fayetteville. The staff at the museum were more than happy to hold and feature an exhibit to help relay a true story of a snake, the Vietnam War and Fort Bragg. This exhibit will be on display through Dec. 2.
The tale of George the Burmese python starts in 1963 when a U.S. Special Forces soldier rescued it from being the next meal of Cambodian mercenaries in Saigon, Vietnam. After the python was rescued, Master Sgt. Dewey Simpson and his soldiers brought it back to the camp, making the snake an unofficial pet and mascot, before taking her back stateside for a short stay at Fort Bragg due to the dangerous environment.
George became the idol of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh for 25 long years after her move there, where thousands of children and adults got to see her up-close and personal. George the python played a significant role and made a huge impact on the children who came to see her during field trips to the museum at the time. The python’s presence educated a lot of visitors about her species, home and the realities of war at the time. And this is only a small fraction of the beloved python’s story.
“An Unlikely Refugee: The story of a python named George,” a recent graphic novel, inspired the exhibition. Written by Morrow Dowdle and illustrated by the author’s husband, Max Dowdle, the novel tells the tale of war, life and other themes – all from the perspective of the python. The novel touches on a lot of themes with the tale of George, some darker than others, all the while remaining entertaining.
The exhibition features illustrations from the graphic novel as well as information panels about George and her species, the Burmese python. It also includes some informative panels regarding George’s habitat and her journey from Vietnam to Fort Bragg before making her way to her final home in Raleigh.
Several guests attended a special reception for the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Saturday, July 7. Those guests included the authors of the graphic novel; Jamie McCargo, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ exhibit design curator; and Dana Gilooly, head of the NCMNS Museums Grant Program.
George’s exhibition is on display until Dec. 2. The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is located on Arsenal Avenue in downtown Fayetteville. Admission is free, and George’s exhibition and more can be seen during regular operating hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
For more information, call 919-807-7300 or visit the museum’s site: www.museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov.