Monday, 17 January 2011

Animal Espionage: 8 Crazy Creatures Used As Spies

A vulture was recently "arrested" in Saudi Arabia, accused of being a spy for Israel's Mossad foreign intelligence agency. While it may seem like an unusual occurrence, this vulture is just one of many animals that have been accused of spying. From insects to squirrels, animals have been accused of various forms of espionage over the years. As technology continues to develop, it seems that this trend may escalate.

Whether these accusations are simply wild fears or bizarre truths, we've compiled a list of some unusual animal spy reports that could make James Bond unemployed.

What do you think? Is this the future of espionage, or should we stop drafting species that can't escape our recruitment?

1. Vultures


Saudi Arabia recently accused a vulture of spying after it was found carrying a transmitter and leg bracelet attached by Tel Aviv University scientists. Researchers argue that the tagging was being used to study migration patterns.

2. Cat


In the 1960’s, the CIA reportedly explored surgically inserting microphones and transmitters into cats, a project dubbed “Acoustic Kitty.” Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti told The Telegraph that the project "slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity." The first wired cat was, according to the Guardian, released for spying and took just a few steps towards its target before the cat was run over by a taxi. The CIA concluded that the project was impractical for intelligence gathering.



Iranian Police reportedly held 14 squirrels on suspicion of spying in 2007. According to Mental Floss, foreign intelligence services found out that the squirrels had been fit with equipment for eavesdropping. Meanwhile, a Foreign Office source reportedly told Sky News that "the story is nuts."



Iran claimed to have found “spy pigeons” near a nuclear facility in 2008. The accusation wasn’t the first of its kind. According to Wired, camera-carrying pigeons may have been around since 1903, when a German engineer experimented with the idea. Pigeons have played such a strong role in w*rt*me that one pigeon, Cher Ami, won a medal for saving U.S. lives during World W*r I. And how are these supposed pigeon spies being intercepted? With falcons, of course! In World W*r II, the British used two peregrine falcones to intercept German pigeon spies, with some reported success.

5.Sea Lions and Dolphins

Sea Lions and Dolphins

The U.S. Navy has recruited sea lions and dolphins for their Marine Mammal Program. It seems the military was not inspired by the irony of recruiting “Navy Seals,” but rather chose these animals for their abilities to hear underwater and see in low-light. Thus, the mammals have been trained to sweep for mines, carry cameras, and even cuff underwater suspects.

Animal rights groups have objected to using these animals in combat. "W*r is a human endeavour and while people and political parties may decide w*r is necessary, animals cannot," Dawn Carr of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tells the BBC.

6. Hawks


Hawks were suspected of spying after Indian officials found the birds carrying what appeared to be high-tech surveillance equiptment. According to the BBC, while India initially suggested they were Pakistani “spyhawks,” a senior Indian police officer debunked the accusation, stating that the birds were simply being used to assist with hunting expeditions. In other words, the hawks were spying, but on other birds, not people.

7. Insects


Scientists are reportedly experimenting with insects for surveillance. The Telegraph explains that electrodes, batteries, and video cameras are being fitted onto insects. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) may be working to insert brain probes into moths and beetles in the pupa stage. It is believed that the creatures will naturally incorporate the implants into their bodies as they develop.

8. Chickens


Perhaps ironically dubbed "KFC," Operation Kuwaiti Field Chicken was a US army plan to use chickens during battle, reports the BBC. The plan was for the chickens to be used to detect poisonous gases, but 41 of the animals died from illness in the Gulf within a week of arrival. It seems that Colonel Sanders can still keep the KFC name for himself.


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