Trunk in cheek, elephant mimics Korean | Science News

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Trunk in cheek, elephant mimics Korean

Novel posture lets animal approximate sounds of human words

5:34pm, November 5, 2012

View the video

An Asian elephant has learned to mimic five words in Korean, creating a humanlike tone by sticking its trunk into its mouth.

This is the first systematically studied case of an elephant mimicking human speech, says bioacoustician Angela Stoeger at the University of Vienna. The male elephant, called Koshik and housed in a Korean zoo, makes sounds close in pitch to human language and reminds Korean speakers of actual words, Stoeger and her colleagues report in the Nov. 20 Current Biology.

Studying the select group of animals that can imitate sounds they hear broadens the understandi

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content