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10 Insanely Skilled Animals Famous for Having Human Jobs
Animals are loyal companions. But to many people around the globe, animals are also food. Animals can be a source of entertainment, from pop culture movies like Babe and The Lion King to a cat chasing a laser pointer dot as if it was the only food source left on the planet.
Throughout civilization, the human race has greatly benefitted from the influence and exploitation of our furry, slimy, and feathered friends, often used to make certain human industries possible (think farming before tractors). Other times, we assign them human tasks that they undertake with aplomb.
Here are ten animals famous for doing human jobs.
10 Pelorus Jack–The Navigator
The treacherous waters near New Zealand’s French Pass, a narrow stretch of water starting at Pelorus Sound, were a handful to navigate with waters that rushed through at 8 knots. One day in 1888, the crew of the schooner Brindle, traveling toward French Pass, noticed a white Risso’s dolphin in the wake of the steamer. Pelorus Jack, as he was named, spent the next 24 hours escorting boats from Pelorus Sound to the French Pass, never leaving his well-defined area.
On the reverse journey, he would again meet up with ships that exited the pass, staying with them along the way, riding their bow waves. Over the years, Pelorus Jack became quite famous, seemingly leading ships to safer waters, guiding them away from potential hazards, and preventing shipwrecks. Jack became so handy that he had ships wait for him to appear before proceeding through the tricky parts of the pass.
9 Magic–The Therapist
Magic, the gentle carousel miniature therapy horse, doesn’t have a degree in psychology, can’t say human words, and doesn’t understand basic syntax. But Magic is no normal horsey. Named one of Time’s most heroic pets, Magic has built up quite the reputation as a therapy horse, providing comfort and solace to hospital and hospice care patients, schools, and programs.
A member of the Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, a volunteer charity based in Florida, Magic and her team of equine friends interact with more than 25,000 people of all ages, offering comfort in some of their darkest hours. Magic was even roped in to provide support after the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, providing comfort to hundreds, which was quite a tall order.
8 Cheesecake–The Foster Parent
Who better to look after abandoned puppies than the largest rodent known to man? Cheesecake is a capybara at the Rocky Ridge Refuge in Arkansas, a group formed solely for the rescue of abandoned and injured animals.
Cheesecake was still a baby when she arrived at the sanctuary, so she lived inside with the dogs, playing and sleeping with them. It, therefore, came as no surprise to the founder of the refuge, Janice Wolf, that Cheesecake took it upon herself to take care of and foster the abandoned pups that arrived at their doors.
To raise funds for the care of the animals, Wolf started a Facebook page, and the cute photos of Cheesecake and the pups have gone somewhat viral ever since, with Cheesecake even appearing on calendars sold to the public.
7 Menswear Dog–The Model
Bhodi the Shibu Inu—aka Menswear Dog—is dubbed the most stylish dog in the world. Discovered in 2013 when his owners took pictures of him modeling menswear, the photos took the internet by storm. He has been shot into infamy for his impeccable style and picturesque camera persona.
Although he’s living it up the high life in New York, just like you would expect from a famous model, Bhodi still stays with his owners—Yena Kim, a fashion designer and David Fung, a graphic designer. He is reported to make up to $15,000 per month, landing contracts with the biggest fashion players in the game.
Bhodi made living the dream possible for his two owners, who have managed to turn Bhodi’s fashion aspirations into full-time careers, receiving fashion endorsements and even designing a fashion line specifically for dogs.
6 Louis–The Custodian
Louis the parrot lived to be 115 years old, the last 17 of which he spent as the custodian of a mansion and an estate worth more than the average parrot needs. When Miss Victoria Wilson passed away in 1949, she owned a piece of prime real estate and left her entire estate to Royal Jubilee Hospital and the Red Cross Society, as well as her pet parrot Louis, her best friend in the world. The caveat—only upon Louis’s death would the money be passed to Jubilee and the Red Cross.
He was placed in the care of Yue Wah Wong, and while Louis was the rightful custodian of the estate, the validity of the will was attacked by various interested parties in their quest to lay claim to what they felt was wasted on the parrot. The multiple attempts were either rejected out of hand by the courts or fell foul of public outrage and withdrawn. Louis spent the rest of his life sipping on brandy and enjoying the fruits of Miss Victoria’s labors.
5 Congo–The Artist
When you look at the work of Congo, the world-famous artist, you might be forgiven for thinking, “Even a monkey could do that.” You would be right. Congo the chimpanzee first took to the brush when Desmond Morris, a zoologist and painter himself, studied the creative habits of apes. Over the course of Desmond’s studies of the curious creature, Congo produced over 400 works of art. What began as strokes and blotches of nothing soon evolved into more intricate work that showcased logic and planning.
Congo’s work went on sale in 1957, but in 2005, three of Congo’s paintings went for $25,000 at auction. More recently, however, Congo’s work has gone to auction, reaching prices of over $250,000 and climbing—posthumously, of course. The true curse of artistry.
4 Jack–The Railway Signalman
When James Wide noticed a chacma baboon driving an oxcart in a market in South Africa, he bought him and made him his personal pet and assistant. James, the unfortunate soul, known affectionately as Jumper as he would jump between railway cars, lost both his legs when he fell under a moving train. So the first thing he taught Jack was to push him to work in a trolley. Shortly after that, Jack was brought in to do chores like sweeping and taking out trash.
But it didn’t end there. James also trusted Jack with operating the signals that instructed train engineers which tracks they had to take, also helping with key duties when new drivers would reach the coal sheds. In the end, Jack was even able to work the signal levers, no longer needing any instructions from his master to do the job.
3 Nils Olav–Major General of the Norwegian King’s Guard
Knighted in 2008, promoted to Brigadier in 2016, and then Major General in 2023, Sir Nils Olav is the personification of dignified and regal. Also, Sir Olav is a king penguin.
When the Norwegian King’s Guard visited the zoo, Major Nils Egelien was fascinated by the penguins and how their march reminded him of the Norwegian King’s Guard march. Shortly after that, they adopted a king penguin as their military mascot.
Sir Nils’s full title is Major General Sir Nils Olav, Baron of the Bouvet Islands. He is the third highest rank in the Norwegian army and now outranks Major Nils Egelien, the soldier he was named after in 1972. Long may he live.
2 G.I. Pigeon–The Messenger
There are many animals of war that are worth mentioning, but one of the most infamous would be G.I. Joe, the pigeon, credited for saving more than a thousand lives in his most famous endeavor. When the 56th Brigade of the British army was scheduled to attack the city of Colvi Vecchia, Italy, at 10 am, the Americans were under instruction to bomb that same city at the same time. The Germans retreated, and the Brits took the city ahead of time, leaving the British troops in striking range of U.S. air raids.
Attempts to cancel the bombing failed before they released G.I. Joe with the most important message, hoping the bombing would be staved off. He cleared 20 miles (32 kilometers) in 20 minutes and arrived just as the planes were rumbling to action. G.I. Joe was cited and awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry—the only animal in the United States to receive this prestigious award.
1 Felicia–The Particle Physicist
Okay, it might be a stretch to qualify Felicia, the ferret, as a physicist, but that she has played an immensely important role in the advancement of our understanding of particle physics is undeniable.
When physicists at the National Accelerator Lab in Illinois began testing the biggest machine in the world, their $250 million project ran into a few snags. After many failed attempts and countless hours, they realized metal slivers left behind by the construction of the tubes were causing the magnets to fail.
Felicia, a $35 ferret, was taught to scurry through pipes for rewards. Soon afterward, she was making her way through the 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) long tubing, cleaning any residue that might be detrimental to the process. They also slapped a diaper on her for good measure, as ferret droppings would just replace one problem with another.