Watch Out! These Birds And Animals Among Us 'May Be' Spies!

Animals as detectives seems too far-fetched? Wait till you read what these animals actually did.

As strange as it may sound, these birds and animals have been accused of international espionage. Stories of intelligence agencies spending millions in an attempt to try to train members of the animal world is not new. Secret agencies have been using these tactics as early as 1908! I mean, who would ever mistake a cute and furry friend to be a spy, right? Below are some stories of when birds and animals among us turned into 'alleged' spies. While they seem inconceivable, there has rather been much evidence of them being true!

It is believed that Your Cat Stares at You to Show Affection, but are you sure?

Cats and Dogs

  • In the early 1960s, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) tried to turn an innocent kitty into a spy. Under “Operation Acoustic Kitty” they thought they could train cats to spy on the enemies. The entire project took about 5 years to complete and in the end, a high-tech kitty-cat was ready to spy on Soviet leaders. The day arrived and Acoustic Kitty was ready to venture into the real world. However, being the cat that she was, the kitty got hungry, bored, and distracted. The kitty wandered a little more before a taxi hit and killed her. Operation Acoustic Kitty cost the US government more than $14 million. But they learnt their lesson. Turns out, cats dislike being told what to do!
  • George Osborne’s cute little kitty Freya went missing in 2009 for 3 years. During this period, Osborne, a British politician, was now the Chancellor of the Exchequer and had just moved in right next to the British Prime Minister’s residence. Suddenly, one day, Freya was back home. The family was over the moon. But then one day they notice Freya is acting all suspicious. She has now started getting in and out of the Treasury, the Foreign Office, and inside the Number 10 Downing Street. Now some accuse her of being a Chinese spy. However, charges against Freya were never confirmed. The Osborne family, on the other hand, just laughed off the rumours! 
  • During World War 1, three animals, including two cats and one dog, were seen repeatedly crossing into the British communication trenches. In 2014, a declassified document from the British intelligence says that there were plans to “trap these animals if possible” on the suspicion of spying. However, no arrests were made!

Pigeons and Ravens

  • In 2008, Iran suspected two pigeons were hanging around the Natanz nuclear reactor. This site is one of the country’s most heavily guarded areas with 24x7 monitoring, including anti-aircraft units. So what are pigeons doing at a uranium enrichment plant? Suspicions arose when it was observed that the pigeon was wearing blue-coated metal rings and invisible strings. Iran claimed that these rings and strings could be communication devices, such as cameras and microphones. The charges were never confirmed, and no one knows what happened to those two pigeons.
  • Back in 2015, a Pakistani 'spy pigeon' was arrested in India. A young boy spotted the suspected Pakistani spy pigeon in the village of Manwal in Punjab, just a few kilometres from the Indo-Pak border. Now, this pigeon was suspected to be a spy because the boy found a stamped message on its tail. The message was written in Urdu and the boy took this suspected spy to the nearest police station where the pigeon was kept in custody. This was not the first time a pigeon was accused of being a spy, and it won’t be the last either. 


  • This is nuts, but Iran in 2007 arrested 14 squirrels along its borders on charges of espionage! Over a dozen squirrels were suspected of being Western spies, as they were spotted wearing high-tech spy gear. The country’s government said that these spies were arrested ‘before they could do anything,’ thanks to its alert intelligence officers. 

Dolphins and Sharks

  • A militant group in Palestinian claimed that Isreal has deployed a spy off the coast of Gaza. The spy was apparently a dolphin that was fitted with cameras. A naval unit of the country's military wing spotted this dolphin equipped with spying devices. This dolphin was seized, but no photographic evidence was ever released. 
  • Yet another country — Egypt — claimed that Israel had deployed sharks as spies in the Red Sea. Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular beach destination in Egypt, gets many tourists who love to take a dip in the sea. In 2010, sharks mauled several swimmers, resulting in one death. Egypt linked this (unconfirmed and) usual spat of shark attacks to Israel. Israel of course refuted the claims. 
  • The United State’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in 2015 came up with a wild plan of implanting bio tags in sharks and thereby controlling their navigation under the water. The plan was to insert electrodes into shark brains and use them to track underwater enemy vessels. Moreover, DARPA planned on turning sharks into sea patrols by making use of their natural ability to sense electrical fields and chemical trails. 


  • In 2010, a vulture that flew into Lebanon was detained for being a spy. This Griffon Vulture apparently escaped from an Israeli nature reserve and flew across the border into the south Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil. What altered the locals was an Israeli identification ring and a location transmitter. The locals then tied a rope around the vulture’s legs and handed him over to the authorities. Once Lebanon was convinced that the vulture was not a spy, they released him from the same spot where he was captured. 


  • This goes back to the 19th century. Legend has it that during the Napoleonic War between England and France, a wrecked French ship was seen off the coast of England with only one survivor: a monkey who was dressed in a miniature military uniform. The townsfolk of Hartlepool where the ship was found have never seen or met a Frenchman and mistook the monkey to be a French spy! After the monkey was captured, a trial took place. And since the monkey could not defend himself for obvious reasons, he was found guilty of spying. The people of Hartlepool later took the monkey to the town square and hanged him to death. In their defence, they believed that the monkey was in fact a ‘powder monkey’ - young boys employed on ships to load cannons with gunpowder. Whatever the truth, the residents of Hartlepool are taunted even today and things like “Who hung the monkey” are still heard at public events. 

Amusing, or rather appalling? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Arjun Sharma

Arjun Sharma

Jeevoka member since Dec 2020