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AUDIO: Killer whale taught to speak human words through blowhole

A killer whale has been taught to speak human words through her blowhole.

Wikie, a 16-year-old captive orca living in a French marine theme park, can be heard in recordings mimicking words such as "hello" and "Amy", and counting "one, two, three".

The sounds emerge as parrot-like squawks, shrill whistles or raspberries, but most are clear enough to understand.

Although the researchers did not set out to test Wikie's communication skills, the scientist who led the study believes basic "conversations" with her may one day be possible.

Dr Jose Abramson, from Complutense de Madrid University in Spain, said: "Yes, it's conceivable ... if you have labels, descriptions of what things are. It has been done before with a famous grey parrot and dolphins using American sign language; sentences like 'bring me this object' or 'put this object above or below the other'.

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