Dogs are made for the military. Elephants are not. We know this because the U.S. Army spent $50,000 to find out.
In March 2015, Sen. John McCain published a report on the Pentagon’s wasteful spending on frivolous projects. One of those projects was to study whether elephants could detect bombs just like dogs. Its results were mixed.
The Benefits of Bomb-Sniffing Elephants
– An elephant’s sense of smell is one of the best in the animal kingdom.
It even surpasses the tried and true canine nose! Their trunks can detect water from 12 miles away, and Army researchers found that elephants were extremely talented at identifying TNT through smell alone.
– Elephants remember their training longer than other military animals.
That elephants never forget isn’t a stereotype. Their memories are advanced enough to hold grudges against specific animals and remember the location of food sources. That memory would help elephants retain their military training for a longer period than a dog.
The Elephant in the Room
– Elephants are too enormous.
Dogs are versatile, agile animals that can follow their human handlers anywhere. Elephants, however, can’t go indoors and sniff for explosives. They can’t even ride along in a Jeep or helicopter with their handlers on their way to a mission. In a combat situation, elephants would just become a huge target.
– Elephants are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Elephants are an endangered species. Not only is it unethical to send an endangered animal into a war zone, but it’s pretty illegal too. Rooting out bombs is risky work, and the military probably doesn’t want to deal with PETA protesters or human rights lawyers when an elephant gets injured.
There’s a reason the Pentagon only spent a small piece of its $600 billion budget on bomb-sniffing elephants. The idea, while interesting, was dead in the water before it even started.
So we’ll stick with heroic pooches Lucca.