7 Mind-Blowing Ways Jobs Are Being Outsourced to Animals
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
"Yeah, you keep walking or you'll be hearing hoofbeats, mister."
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?"
It is pretty widely known that pigeons can be trained to carry things from one place to another -- they've been used to carry messages since forever, and really it was only a matter of time before somebody thought, "I'm going to tie some drugs to that shit!"
So, prisoners in Colombia trained pigeons to smuggle goods in from the outside. It makes sense -- anything that comes through the prison doors will get searched, but a prison yard doesn't have a dome over it or anything. The skies are wide open.
Pigeons are the best phone carriers.
So on the outside, the birds are fitted with tiny little bird backpacks full of contraband, then sent off over the wall to the waiting inmates. Prison officials have no way to stop them, short of shooting every single pigeon they see. In fact, the prison guards didn't even know about the smuggler pigeons until, as this extremely British article puts it, "Crims using a specially trained pigeon to carry narcotics to their chums doing porridge overloaded the bird, causing it to come down early and wind up in the hands of the local Old Bill."
Translation: The police found the birds. Cor blimey.
Colombian prisoners aren't the only ones using pigeons as smugglers. The crew of an oil platform off the coast of Norway found an exhausted pigeon on deck with 5 grams of hash taped to its legs, which they presumably then smoked to relieve the boredom of living on an oil platform. Pigeons are also used in South Africa to smuggle diamonds. Since diamonds are immensely more big league than cigarettes being flown into a prison (see above), the South African police shoot the pigeons on sight.
"I just want to speak to my goddamn union rep."
And if you thought that was the most cartoonish use of an animal to commit a crime, that's only because you haven't yet heard about ...
Parrots are popular amongst pirates, Jimmy Buffett fans and people who like feeding things crackers. Their ability to mimic human language makes them entertaining pets when taught rap lyrics or profanity (the two categories enjoy some overlap). As we have said before, their ability to understand language is impressive. Also, that ability is what makes them so popular with criminals.
He does all their publicity.
A Colombian gang (Colombian criminals love using birds, possibly because in Central America there's just so freaking many of them) trained parrots to shout "Run, run, the cat is going to get you" in Spanish whenever they saw a police uniform. One such parrot, named Lorenzo, would alert a band of smugglers before the police closed in on their hideout. "You could say he was some sort of watch bird," Officer Hollman Oliveira said of Lorenzo, after the bird and his cohorts were taken into custody.
Yes, they arrested the bird.
When police raided the building Lorenzo was guarding, they seized over 200 weapons and made four arrests. The police tricked Lorenzo the easiest way possible: by sending undercover cops. When uniformed police showed up after the raid, Lorenzo went into overdrive, squawking his warning for hours.
He's going behind bars for a long time.
And in case you thought this was just one oddball case, Colombian authorities say they have captured over 1,700 parrots trained to shout warnings.
Dogs That Can Predict Seizures
Dogs have been employed by humans since the beginning of time to hunt, herd sheep, guard houses, help the blind and test the humpability of stuffed animals. You know what would make dogs even more useful, though? The ability to predict the goddamned future.
Granted, the thing they have an uncanny ability to predict is pretty specific -- when a person with epilepsy will have a seizure -- but they can do it, minutes or even hours before it occurs.
"Look, I'll tell you when you're going to have it if you get me the kibble first."
When they detect that a seizure is on the way, the dogs either bark, run around in circles, lie down in front of their master or maybe spell out "SEIZURE" on the carpet in dog biscuits. The person in danger can then either take medication or get to a safe place. Some dogs are trained to call for help if their master is unable to (which is a nice way of saying the dog has failed miserably at its job as an early warning system).
"Send help, and then post my resume on Monster.com."
We know you're wondering how in the hell the same animals that can't figure out that you're the one holding the laser pointer can somehow sense seizures coming before the victim even does. The answer is, nobody knows. There is speculation that the dogs notice subtle changes in behavior or are able to smell a change in body chemistry, but so far there is no scientific evidence to support either theory.
Our working theory is that dogs are badass.
Consequently, there's no way to train a dog to detect a seizure. They'll either do it or they won't. Most dogs can be trained to assist a person while they're having a seizure, so if you have epilepsy it wouldn't hurt to have one around, but detecting a seizure beforehand is an innate ability that about 10 percent of all dogs have, so don't assume, every time Lord Muffington poops in the laundry room, that you need to take a pill and click your Life Alert bracelet.
For more reasons that animals are really big jerks, check out 5 Lovable Animals You Didn't Know Are Secretly Terrifying and The 5 Creepiest Serial Killers (Who Were Animals).