The CIA tested various animals as possible spies, including dolphins and crows, according to the files released by the agency last week.
Cats, dogs, pigeons, and ravens were among the animals that the CIA trained as agents to help the US against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Part of the program was studying cats as possible "audio surveillance vehicles" and putting electrical implants in dogs' brains to determine if they can't be remotely controlled.
Neither of the said programs came into fruition, as per a report on the Japan Times. It added that the agency exerted more effort into training dolphins as potential saboteurs and help spy on the Soviet's development of a nuclear submarine fleet.
Known as Projects Oxygas and Chirilogy, the CIA wanted to see if they can train dolphins to replace human divers and attach explosives on moving vessels. Part of the training programs aimed to have the animals sneak into Soviet harbors and leave acoustic buoys and rocket detection units as well as swim side by side with submarines to gather acoustic signatures.
The CIA also threw in the towel for those programs and was later forwarded to the US Navy, which still uses dolphins and seals, the Japan Time reports.
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It adds that birds, even migratory birds, were a special focus on the training program. Enlisting ornithologists, the CIA tried to determine which birds usually spend their time in the area where the Soviets carried out a chemical weapons facility.
The agency considered migratory birds as "living sensors" that can reveal the substances that the Russian were testing based on the reaction of their skin caused by what they had eaten.
One of the major efforts in the bird training project was with pigeons. The CIA needed these birds for missions where they would have to fly between unfamiliar roosts and photo targets. Pigeons were acquired by the hundred and tested with cameras in areas around the US to determine if they can be trained on simulated routes.
There were mixed results for the pigeon test: some with perfect photos, others flying out and never turned, while one was attacked by a hawk and returned without the camera attached to it.
|Photo by: MIKALAY VARABEY via 123rf|