Funny: 5 Animals with Odd Jobs

From lawn-mowing to land mine detection, animals across the world are joining the work force.

By Taylor Shea
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    Llamas mow lawns at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

    In summer of 2013, employees at Chicago's O'Hare airport searched for a sustainable way to mow the surrounding overgrown fields, hoping to eliminate potential habitats for birds and wildlife that could be hazardous to departing planes. Their solution? Llamas! The animals are cost efficient, environmentally friendly, and can even reach rocky inclines that traditional lawnmowers can't.

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    Manatees clear canals of weeds.

    Manatees have held this odd job for over a century in Guyana, South America. The hefty creatures, weighing in at over 1,000 pounds, are able to ingest up to 10 percent of their body weight in weeds every day! Although they were never specifically hired to clear canals, the journal Irrigation and Drainage Systems wrote a paper commending the animals ability to keep the waterways clean and functional.

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    Dogs sniff out bed bugs.

    Across America, dogs are being used to detect bed-bug infestations in private homes and public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and libraries. Their extra-sensitive noses allow them to identify exactly where the critters are, ensuring that every last one can be destroyed.

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    Dolphins detect underwater land mines.

    Since the 1960s, the United States Navy has been training dolphins to search for underwater land mines; once the animals find one, they leave an acoustic transponder device in the area which allows Navy experts to locate the mine and safely defuse it.

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    Sheep prune leaves in vineyards.

    Napa Valley wineries have begun using sheep to prune excess grape leaves in their vineyards to help prevent mildew from forming and ruining the fruit. People are not as efficient as mechanical labor, but machines often damage the delicate plants. However, sheep work very quickly, tackling up to 20 acres a day—and as a bonus, they leave behind fertilizer that enriches the soil. Some wineries even employ the sheep to produce cheese to accompany their wine.