8 Amazing (And Totally Useless) Skills People Taught Animals

Remember the last time you taught a pet to do a simple trick like sit or roll over? Hours of coaxing, promises of treats, all to get an animal to do something that's ultimately pointless? Well, we're about to severely squash your sense of accomplishment, because apparently you could've spent that time doing something far more impressive (but still completely pointless), like ...

#8. Teaching Mice to Surf

Here, have this picture of a mouse on a miniature surfboard. You're welcome.

On the bottom of the board is an airbrushed middle finger for the sharks.

We know what you're thinking: Some fiend glued a poor mouse to a tiny surfboard and then quickly snapped a photo before it drowned. But the truth is infinitely stranger -- for the past 25 years, Australian Shane Wilmott has been teaching his pet mice how to surf. As a teenager, he'd watch the little waves close to the shore and wish that he could surf them. Since science has never gotten its ass in gear on that shrink ray we've all been waiting for, Shane did the next best thing and started crafting mini surfboards for his pet mice.

"When you're done with that, put on this Nixon mask. We're going to the bank."

He starts them off in his bathtub to let them gain confidence in the water. Then it's out to the swimming pool for training sessions with a remote control boat before turning them loose on the beach. And they're not just standing there, petrified -- as anyone who's ever surfed before can tell you, you need to actively balance yourself unless you fancy dinner at an all-you-can-eat sand buffet. You can see them in action here, complete with a Quentin Tarantino-esque soundtrack:

Now, one thing that strikes us as a bit off is that unless there's some kind of weird forced perspective trick going on here, these aren't so much "mice" as they are big-ass rats:

Possibly a horse.

But then this is Australia we're talking about, so we're just going to assume that the mice there are some kind of gigantic, mutated version of our puny American mice. And also venomous.

#7. Teaching Elephants Basketball

Even if you're not really into basketball, we bet we could get you to spring for a couple tickets if we told you the game would look like this:

It's called traveling, Dumbo. Learn it.

Meet Malie, an elephant who lives at the Island Safari Center in Koh Sumai, Thailand, with her roomie, Toktak. One day, the zookeepers were in their shed smoking some weed and watching some basketball on TV (we assume) when one thing led to another and they decided to train the two elephants to play basketball.

The organizers say that it took two to three months to teach each of them the basics of the game, which includes holding the ball with their trunk, walking to the hoop, standing on their hind legs and dunking the ball. Tourists who've seen the spectacle claim that it's unbelievable, but if even half the stuff we've heard about Bangkok is true, we honestly doubt that basketball-playing elephants would even break the top 10 of the most unbelievable things done with balls in Thailand. Still, look at it!

#6. Teaching a Cow to Be a Horse

Most of us think of cows as lazy, fat animals, slowly munching away on some grass while staring blankly at us with hard, murderous yet uncaring eyes. But when 15-year-old Regina Mayer from Germany couldn't talk her parents into springing for a horse, she decided to do the next best thing -- she took the family cow, Luna, and forced her to rebel against her bovine nature by training her to do this:

PA Wire via Times of Malta
"Bring the skateboarding lens. You're going to need it."

That's right: For two years, Regina's been training Luna to act just like a horse. She rides the cow and makes her jump over makeshift hurdles constructed from beer crates, because Germany. And while the speed and height of their maneuvers may not compare to those of a "real" horse, the fact that she was able to convince a cow to lift its feet with her riding on its back is an impressive achievement in itself.

The teenager spends at least an hour a day with Luna, riding her, petting her, brushing her hair and making sure nobody comes near the cow with a mirror. Are we the only ones who would totally watch a jousting contest where everybody was riding cows? Or even better, a gladiator movie where they're pulling the chariots? Just mooing the whole time? It seems like the possibilities are endless here.

#5. Having a Laughing Cock Contest

Man, sometimes you have to wonder if people do things with the express intention of landing themselves in a Cracked article. Take the good folks of Jakarta, Indonesia, for example -- they spend years training their cocks to prepare them for their annual laughing cock contest. How exactly does one "train" a cock to laugh, you ask? We're sorry, we're far too busy snickering to answer that question right now.

If that prize translates to "#1 Cock," we're booking our flight to Indonesia immediately.

Breeders make their living off of their roosters' chortling skills, a trick bred and trained into them from the earliest stages of chick-hood. A good male hatchling can go for up to 5 million rupees, which is about $575 in non-Monopoly money. The special roosters are called king chickens, because apparently Indonesian farmers don't realize that the name "laughing cocks" equates to marketing gold. You can watch them cackle here:

At the contests, the judges rate the roosters on ... how good they laugh, we guess? Some of them do a long, drawn-out laugh with four to 12 guffaws at a time, while others are capable of going on and on like that machine gun at the end of Rambo. How you become an expert judge of cock laughter isn't quite clear, but we sincerely hope there are Laughing Cock Expert name badges involved.

(We're sorry, but if laughing at that makes us childish, we want to never grow up.)

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