The making of a HeroRAT


ApopoBy Stephanie Jackson-Ali, LMSW

When you picture a hero, certainly the first image that comes to your mind is a rat – yes? Well, once you learn about Foundation Beyond Belief’s current Human Rights beneficiary, Apopo, you probably will!

These rats are not your average city-dwellers, or even your less-average cuddly pet. These truly are heroes. What else would you call an animal that detects mines in some of the world’s most dangerous countries and provinces? What else would you call these critters that are using their innate skills to detect tuberculosis before it gets out of hand?

Apopo approaches human rights with a unique blend of science, technology, and animal activism. They are pioneers in Mine Detection Rat technology. The inventive technology focuses on the attributes the rats already possess (they are intelligent, too light to set off the mines, and easily transportable) with innovation by creator Bart Weetjens to create a unique new program.

The question of how is intriguing for all the scientifically minded, and the organization is very focused on research and evidence. See how they train their rats for mine detection and tuberculosis detection.

The program also creates local jobs in areas such as Thailand, Angola, and Dar es Salaam, where trainers are hired from local populations to work with the organization. And don’t worry about the rats. Founder Weetjens kept them as pets as a boy in Belgium and has a special affinity for the animals – he created the program with their safety in mind as well.

To learn more about how the HeroRATs work, spend a day in the life of one of their HeroRATs-in-training. Whether you’re there for the cute factor or to see the little heroes at work, it is definitely worth the click to check out Apopo and their HeroRATs.