Turns out Ukraine's killer dolphin army is just the tip of the animal soldier iceberg

Turns out Ukraine's killer dolphin army is just the tip of the animal soldier iceberg

CultureMarch 28, 2014

As Russia takes over Crimea, they've been seizing control of all sorts of Ukrainian resources. But there's one in particular that made us spit our coffee out all over our keyboards a little: Ukraine's highly-trained unit of military dolphins. Yeah, you read that right.

Ukraine's combat dolphin program is the only of its kind in the world ... except in the US. Of course we have dolphin soldiers. How did you think we became the world's most powerful country?

And although the dolphins in Ukraine and US fight for different causes, they're both highly-trained war machines, specializing in tactics such as attacking enemy divers (they're everywhere) and attaching buoys to underwater targets, like mines. Who knows what kind of insults to democracy we would have experienced by now if our water weren't patrolled by adorable, happy dolphins who will kill you.

Engineers at the Ukrainian dolphin facility were, at the time of seizure by Russia, also building technology to convert readings from the dolphins' underwater sonar into visual cues an operator could read on a monitor, but it looks like that project sunk. Unlike the dolphins, whose mixture of cuteness and bloodlust have single handedly kept our women and children safe.

Dolphin spies have been serving our country for over 40 years now, and were actually used during the Vietnam war and Operation Iraqi Freedom to locate underwater mines and dramatically increase our mortal fear of the ocean. See, your tax really are going to work somewhere useful!

But all this talk of military dolphins made us thirsty for more animal solider ludicrousness. Thank god we were able to uncover five other times that animals have donned a uniform and solemnly pledged to serve their countries:

Bomb-sniffing bees

Bees, aside from being the most satanic creature on earth, are also capable of sensing tiny molecules of pollen from very far distances, so naturally, researchers are training them to sniff out bomb ingredients. When the bees pick up explosive odors with their antennae, they flick their proboscises — a tubular feeding organ than extends from their mouths and that alerts authorities that that funny ticking sound they're hearing is something a little worse than the annoying clock on the wall. Because the only thing worse than a bomb is a bomb covered in bees.

Anti-terrorism gerbils

Britain's MI5 trained a team of gerbils to recognize the scent of human adrenaline, thinking that if they released the counter-terrorism critters into airport security checks, they'd be able to smell out any potential terrorists who might be nervous about, you know, terrorizing. But the brilliant idea was never put into practice; researchers discovered that the gerbils couldn't discern between bad guys and people who were just scared of flying. Once again,  the utter uselessness of gerbils become apparent. Now, if they could just train them to detect which one of you farted...

Spy kitties

During the Cold War, the CIA tried to turn an ordinary domestic cat into a sophisticated bugging device as part of Operation Acoustic Kitty (is that your new band name?).  The idea was to surgically alter cats with spy equipment so they could eavesdrop on Soviet conversations from park benches and windowsills.

The project began in 1961 when the CIA implanted a battery and a microphone into the unlucky cat and turned its tail into an antenna. Five years later, after several surgeries, intensive training and $15 million, the cat was ready for its first field test.

The CIA drove the cat to a Soviet compound in Washington, D.C. and let it out of a parked van across the street, thinking it would spy on a Soviet meeting they'd intercepted. The cyborg cat walked into the road, intent on fulfilling its first-ever military mission and ... was immediately hit by a taxi.

War pigeons

Homing pigeons were widely used by American and British forces during World War II to carry messages in areas that operated under radio silence.  In fact, the flying rats were so popular that the U.S. Army had an entire Pigeon Breeding and Training Center, where the pigeons were trained to carry small capsules containing messages, maps, photographs and cameras. Military historians claim that more than 90 percent of all pigeon-carried messages sent by the U.S. Army during the war were received.

The birds even participated in the D-Day invasion, carrying information about German positions on Normandy beaches and reporting back on the success of the mission. In fact, homing pigeons played such an important military role that 32 of them were awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain’s highest award for animal valor, which is a thing.

Voytek the (fucking adorable) Polish solider bear

Voytek was just a baby bear with no mom or national defense force to join when the Polish army found him wandering the hills of Iran in 1943. The soldiers took him in, and before long, he became a regular ol' solider, drinking beers, smoking cigarettes, and shirking his duties with the best of them.

As Voytek grew into a giant war beast,  he was trained to carry mortar shells and boxes of ammunition during battle. In 1944, he officially enlisted in the Polish Army — complete with name, rank and number. He traveled with his unit, carried ammunition to soldiers under fire and even peaked as a bear solider when he discovered a (kinky) Arab spy hiding in the unit’s bath hut.

There was an opportunity for a "right to bear arms" joke somewhere in there, but we think we missed it.