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Elephant that can speak to trainers

SCIENTISTS have found an elephant that can speak Korean.

But Koshik, who talks by putting his trunk in his mouth, has a vocabulary of just five words.

He was recorded at a zoo in South Korea imitating human speech for words that translate into English as 'hello', 'sit down', 'no', 'lie down' and 'good'.

But it is not believed he means what he says.

Researchers reported in the journal Current Biology that Koshik's language skills could provide important insights into the biology and evolution of vocal learning.

Elephant communication expert Angela Stoeger, of the University of Vienna, said: "Human speech basically has two important aspects: pitch and timbre.

"Intriguingly, the elephant Koshik is capable of matching both pitch and timbre patterns. He accurately imitates human formats as well as the voice pitch of his trainers.

"This is remarkable."

hnews@herald.ie


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