Big Mimics: African elephants can learn to copy sounds

By Susan Milius, 15:52 PM April 15, 2008

Two captive elephants—one making truck noises and the other chirping like a different elephant species—could be the first nonprimate, land mammals demonstrated to do vocal imitations.

"It is certainly a surprise to most people, even those who know elephants," says Joyce Poole, research director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project headquartered in Sandefjord, Norway.

Poole, who has studied elephant communication for years, documented one case of imitation after a friend raising an orphan ...

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