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  • Writer's pictureBrain Booster Articles


Updated: Dec 1, 2020

By M. Palani Selvi, B.Sc.,

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States is a civilian foreign intelligence service. They will gather information from around the world with the use of humans. But there are many problems while using humans as spies, if the spies were caught, they would have been imprisoned.

The foremost aim of the CIA is to collect secret information from the Soviet Union. So the CIA had planned to use cats as spies instead of humans to collect information from the Soviet Union since cats are small, stealthy they can go anywhere, pass through the fences, slip through the doors and the people will also ignore cats.

In the 1960s ‘Project, Acoustic Kitty’ was launched by the CIA to use cats to spy on the Soviet Union. It was said that the Project Acoustic Kitty cost about $20 million. A small microphone was inserted into the cat’s ear, a small radio transmitter at the base of its skull and a thin wire into its fur.

The first Acoustic Kitty project test was conducted in a park in Washington D.C and tasked it with capturing the conversation of two men in the park. Unfortunately, the cat was hit by a taxi and it was dead!

They concluded that to train cats are impossible. Afterwards, the project was considered as a failure and declared to be a total loss and the project was cancelled in 1967.

Other animals which are used for spying:

Dolphins and Sea lions:

The US Navy has used dolphins and sea lions as spies to find underwater mines and detect submarines. Russia has also used dolphins as spies.


In ancient times Pigeons were used to pass messages between counties and can easily enter into the enemy territories. In the 1960s and 1970s, the US military trained pigeons to spy. They have trained to drop recording devices while they saw the enemy troops. But the mission has ended in failure. In recent years, India has accused Pakistan several times of using pigeons as spies.


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) planned to use remote control sharks by implanting electrodes into their brains. But it is not clear if it ever turned into reality.


In 2007, Iran arrested 14 squirrels for spying near a nuclear enrichment plant. It was unknown, which country has sent these squirrels.


In 2018, Iran intelligence agencies have accused chameleons. They said that they could detect uranium mines.


In 2011, a Saudi Arabian hunter captured a griffon vulture and found a ‘Tel Aviv University’ tag on its leg. This story was spread throughout the country and they accused Israel of using the birds for spying. A Saudi Arabian national security official dismissed the rumours and ordered that the birds be freed. The university uses GPS devices to monitor the migration of the birds.

The same situation has happened in Sudan; the Sudanese government found a vulture tagged with an electronic device. The government said the vulture may be a spy but the ecologists held that it was tagged to track migration patterns.


In the 1970s, Sudan accused a pelican of spying on behalf of Israel.


In 2011, some villagers in Southeastern Turkey found a European bee-eater with a metal ring in its leg. They thought that it was a spy and the local officials have accused Israel of spying. But the ecologists held that it was just a GPS device to track the migration patterns.


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