Brazilian prison authorities recently, ah, arrested a cat they found trying to smuggle files, drills, and a cell phone — with handsfree and spare batteries! — into a medium-security prison.
Animals have a long and storied history in security, usually (but not always) because people don’t suspect them.
I sadly can’t find the reference, but there’s a wonderful short story about a clever man who makes a bet (with the warden) that he can escape from the escape-proof local jail. The warden locks him in, and soon finds things getting very strange — the man seemingly conjures money and writing paper out of thin air. The reader learns the trick is in the rats, who can pass freely through the pipes into the man’s cell. A thin thread from the man’s shirt and a note written on a scrap of paper are his first line of contact to the outside, where a well-meaning passerby becomes his aide upon finding the rat. Replacing the cotton thread with rat-proof wire, the guy soon has a fully functional point-to-point postal service delivering him money, tools, and news…
During the Cold War, the Russian and American navies had trained dolphins squads for both demining and surprisingly violent anti-frogman tasks. (There even seems to be a way of translating dolphin-speak into human, though whether a dolphin ever articulated “so long, and thanks for all the fish!” is not public knowledge.)
The weird science front, of course, goes a bit further.
The psychonauts among you ought to look up John C Lilly if you’ve never heard the name. It’s not entirely clear to me what he achieved in his dolphin work, but it’s probably remarkable. (A link on his stuff crossed my desk recently and I spent a while paging though and reading… His description of the Cosmic Control Center (CCC) and Earth Coincidence Control Office is a must-read for security types, if only as a metaphor for other offers best avoided.)
And if you believe the Fortean Times, over a hundred years ago a number of German dogs learned to communicate by tapping or barking out words —
and proved surprisingly able philosophers and intellectuals. (http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/5800/clever_canines.html)
“Guards thought there was something suspicious about a little white cat slipping through a prison gate in northeastern Brazil. A prison official says that when they caught the animal, they found a cellphone, drills, small saws and other contraband taped to its body.
A prison spokesperson was quoted by local paper Estado de S. Paulo as saying: “It’s tough to find out who’s responsible for the action as the cat doesn’t speak.””