I work in AR

by Caitlin Nobes24 May 2013

Ever complained that managing a team was like herding cats? Want to expand your talent pool… beyond humans? Well it might not be long until companies have an AR (animal resources) department.

Dolphins have famously been trained to rescue people at sea, find underwater mines and drop off or retrieve items from the ocean floor. However, there are plenty of other jobs being filled by applicants from the animal kingdom.

You may not have a job description suiting a ferret just yet, but the US Space Command has been known to use them to run cables through piping, including while building a missile warning centre in 1999. Whether it’s for a mega computer or just a concert, running cables through 20 metres of pipes is an arduous task, so why not get the labour done for free? In 1970 the National Accelerator lab used a $35 ferret to clean out almost 100m of pipes, which had to be spotless for accurate experiments.

Not all animal workers are serving science, of course. From parrots used as lookouts for gangs in South America to smuggler pigeons bringing contraband into prisons and over borders, there are plenty of nefarious uses for training furry and feathered friends. Homing pigeons are well-known for their ability to be trained to fly between two destinations – and it’s hard for police to round up flying evidence.

There may actually be something in the phrase, “a monkey could do that” after all.