More than two years after the launch of Guardian Cities, it seems high time for a round-up of all the animal-related stories that have kept us amused along the way. Heres our top 10 now tell us yours
Four feral cats, named after the original Ghostbusters, are being employed in a Chicago brewery to guard the grain from rats. In exchange, they are paid a daily rate in the only currency they understand: dry cat food.
As Medill Reports Chicago explains, the owners of the Empirical brewery in Chicago decided to employ these cats, rather than pest control companies, because they are both cheaper and, to quote verbatim, adorable.
The programme is part of a wider strategy to release 3,500 feral cats to deal with Chicagos unaccountably virulent rat problem. Chicago is apparently the rattiest city in the US.
That same charity, Tree House, is also raising funds to build a cat house: a large apartment building in which 200 cats would live alongside a vet and other feline-specific facilities. Naturally, Tree House has produced a reality TV show to drum up cash for this initiative mainly featuring cats behaving cattily towards each other.
If all this makes you think that Chicago is undergoing a kind of collective delusion brought on by those parasites that supposedly live in cat litter and embed themselves into the brain stems of their hosts, to slowly shift human behaviour over time in pro-cat ways, all we can observe is that its not just Chicago, or cats. Increasingly, wild animals are making their mark on urban environments in a host of new and inventive ways. Behold …
Pigeons with backpacks
In London, pigeons have been equipped with little backpacks to measure air pollution. The ones over Victoria Park wear Fjallraven. No, not really.
Vultures with Go-Pros
Lima, Peru has a rubbish dumping problem so topographically dynamic that it actually needs to be mapped aerially. So what better animal to track garbage mounds from the skies (caw!) than a vulture?
Limas black vultures, or gallinazo, are also large enough to wear Go-Pro video cameras, and well-trained enough by Alfredo Correa at Limas Huachipa zoo to return with said cameras.
Rats who clean
This little guy became a viral sensation in 2015. He even earned a clever nickname: Pizza Rat. This, then, would be the trade-off Chicago has made by hiring all those cats: more pizza on the streets. (And a skyrocketing avian murder rate.)
The plot, however, thickened like the fat congealing on the slice. Last year was full of rat-related viral videos, such as the rat who took a selfie, the rat who fought a pigeon and the rat who carried a donut through the subway. Wait a second that sounds suspiciously familiar to Pizza Rat, doesnt it? Well, Gothamist reports that Eric Yearwood, an actor, says he was paid $200 to star in Selfie Rat by an anonymous artist, casting doubt across the reliability of the entire rat-based internet video continuum. Was the whole thing an obscure art stunt? Dare we call the artist Ratsy? Animal internet stories are a hall of mirrors in which identity itself is but a kaleidoscope.
Monkeys who shop