The CIA declassified documents on secret missions conducted during the Cold War, in which the ‘spies’ were pigeons, owls, dolphins, crows and other animals. The dossiers show that birds were trained for clandestine missions, in order to entrust them with the task of photographing sensitive places in the Soviet Union. The crows were supposed to release espionage devices on the windowsills and the dolphins were trained in underwater missions with which to control the Soviet fleet. The CIA also studied how to exploit cats for surveillance espionage and how to insert implants into dogs’ brains to control them remotely, programs that didn’t go far. The CIA sent ornithologists to find out which birds regularly spent part of the year in the Shikhany area, for example, where the Soviets had nuclear weapon facilities. They also intended to use them as “living sensors”, because based on the food they ate, they would reveal which tests the Russians were conducting. Among the other birds that the agency hired or attempted to hire there were owls, hawks, vultures, parrots. The best ‘candidate’ turned out to be Do Da, a crow so promising that he was nicknamed “the star of the project”. But on a Do Da mission he was attacked by his fellow men and there was no more news. The CIA also purchased hundreds of pigeons, equipping them with cameras and flying them to the US to train them. The goal was to patrol the port of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, where the Soviets built nuclear submarines. But in the experimentation many birds died, others fled or disappeared with the precious equipment they had on them. The revealed documents do not say whether the operation in Leningrad was ever attempted.
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