In this economy, millions of workers know what it's like to have their job outsourced to another country, or to get replaced by a robot. It's hard to hear that all of your advanced skill and dedication can be replaced at a fraction of the cost. What would be worse than that? Hearing that your job is now being done by an animal.
Because we're telling you, animals are figuring this stuff out. Also, they don't complain and they don't get paid. The ranks of career-minded animals now include ...
#7. Seeing-Eye Mini-Horses
First of all, yes, this is a tiny horse wearing sneakers.
He's as stunned as we are.
It's not a cute photo staged for one of those adorable animal calendars you get for your mom at Christmas -- that shoe-wearing horse is on the job.
Like humans, horses differ in size. Smaller humans are called Peter Dinklage, and horses under 3 feet are called miniature horses. They're normal horses in every sense, except they're classified in the adorable kingdom. And miniature horses can be trained to guide the blind, much like seeing-eye dogs.
"Haha! Now the horses do the riding."
They actually have several advantages over their canine competition, in addition to being wonderful conversation starters. Horses are herd animals, and will stick by their owners through instinct. They won't bolt after birds or drag their owners into traffic to eat half a Big Mac lying in the street. Horses live longer than dogs and can be trained to do things dogs can't, like help guide you to the "walk" button at a lighted intersection. Also, some Muslims consider dogs to be unclean, and as such won't even allow service dogs into their homes, but they have no such problem with horses. Most importantly, tiny horses can wear those hilarious shoes.
Their spring/summer collection is almost too much.
However, there are downsides to guide horses. Horses eat more than dogs, so having one means spending a lot more money and picking up a lot more poop. They can spook easily and rear up and kick the shit out of you (this sucks worse when you are blind). They're also larger than dogs, so they're more difficult to transport in cars or airplanes. Plus, some businesses will almost certainly think you're playing some kind of hidden camera prank on them.
"Yeah, just try me, you tiny asshole."
And, although service animals are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act, some areas are reluctant to classify horses as service animals, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Sometimes they're labeled companion animals, exotic animals or livestock. This has led to lawsuits from mini-horse owners, whose complaints presumably were along the lines of "I'm blind, guys. Let me have my damn horse."
No, but seriously. These goddamn sneakers, you guys.
#6. Pipe-Running Ferrets
If you're setting up for a concert, building a giant computer network or just hooking up a new intercom, one of the biggest pains of the job is feeding all the necessary wiring through the pipes you've installed. You can't very well stick your arm through a 30-foot conduit. That's when a creative mind has to start thinking outside of the box. Or just tie the wires to your pet ferret and send it scurrying down the pipe.
It's kinder than throttling them to death or whatever is happening here.
What kind of drunken rednecks would try something like that? The U.S. Space Command. In 1999, when they were building a missile warning center, they used a ferret named Misty to feed thousands of cables through 40 feet of piping to complete construction.
"Yeah, you got some real safety issues here. I'm calling in the roach squad."
Think that's too sensitive of a project to outsource to a fuzzy creature? How about a giant subatomic particle accelerator? One of these things needs hundreds of feet of pipe to fire particles at relativistic speeds, and those pipes have to be absurdly, spotlessly clean. We mean not even a speck of dust, because a tiny speck of dust is more than enough to block the path of a subatomic particle. Normally, a cleaning on that scale would cost thousands of dollars, but in the 1970s the National Accelerator Laboratory spent 35 bucks on Felicia the ferret, who was not legally employable and therefore didn't require a paycheck for her work.
Felicia scurried through the pipes tied to a big swab with a special solution on it, pulling it through behind her and wiping everything clean.
"Yay! I'm going to poop all over this thing!"
And just like that, we've depressed every single reader with a job that includes cleaning pipes. Don't worry, guys, we're sure you bring all sorts of things to the job that they wouldn't get from a critter tied to a sponge.
#5. Coconut-Picking Monkeys
Picking coconuts is a pain in the ass. The coconuts are way, way up in palm trees, so getting them down is a hot, dangerous task. Oh, and the pay sucks. Workers in India were quitting in droves, and the coconut industry was so desperate that the Indian government offered a prize to the first person who invented a coconut-picking machine, which we're pretty sure would just be a "tree-shaking machine." Nobody came up with a device, but the solution they settled on was arguably just as good: monkeys.
"Sure, it seemed like a pretty sweet deal, but you'd be surprised how much saturated fat is in these things."
In a turn of events that we can't believe hasn't been adapted into a movie yet, coconut farmers in India began training monkeys to climb trees and knock the coconuts out. Monkeys are natural tree climbers, and once trained, they're cheaper and more efficient than humans. To put it in perspective, a human can pick around a hundred coconuts a day, while a monkey can pick 500 to 800.
It's not just an India thing, either -- they employ monkey coconut collectors in Thailand, and an article published in Nature way back in 1923 described the practice with a typically detached Western awe, concluding that "Verily there is nothing new under the sun."
Monkey-training school lasts three to six months, during which the monkeys learn what coconuts to pick and how to slam dunk and ride tricycles. And in case you were worried, the monkeys' owners have to treat them well, because the monkeys won't work if mistreated. One monkey got fed up with his cruel owner and killed him with a coconut, which as you may have noticed has resulted in the single greatest epitaph in the history of the world.
Colin and Sarah Northway
"Yeah, you keep walking or you'll be hearing hoofbeats, mister."
#4. Fruit-Cleaning Spiders
With "organic" and "pesticide-free" food all the rage these days, growers have to figure out ways to keep that label without also winding up trying to sell crops that are full of bug holes. Tesco, a chain of stores in Britain, decided to require all of the farms they do business with to do this by dumping an army of spiders on the crops to eat the insects.
Dubbed "Nature's Choice" (or "Operation Cannot Possibly Go Wrong"), the plan is brilliant on paper, as natural predators are a much less environmentally damaging alternative to the harsher pesticides often favored by crop growers. The only problem is the millions of spiders left to their own devices all up in your food.
"Welp, nothing to do now but run down the back of people's necks while they read Cracked articles."
It was only a matter of time until people started finding the little gardeners in their fruit -- one woman went to rinse out a bunch of grapes, only to see a black widow spider come crawling out (in fact, many of the surprise spiders found were black widows). We're pretty sure this is enough reason to eat nothing but freeze-dried astronaut food for the rest of eternity.
"Hey, I got rid of those horrible flies and -- hey, what's that rolled-up paper? Is that the Times?"