Elephant Articulations!

– – We had earlier posted on how a Beluga whale had learned to imitate human speech, and now we may add the Asian elephant to the list of species capable of mimicking speech…in Korean, yet! 

The elephant, named Koshik, had been the only elephant living at the Everland Zoo in South Korea for about five years with only humans for company during what had been an important period in the animal’s life for bonding and social development.  Cognitive biologists have speculated that Koshik started to adapt his vocalizations to his human companions to strengthen his social affiliations.  The process of speech imitation even involved the elephant sticking his trunk into his mouth to help form the sounds. 

Koshik has a vocabulary of five words in Korean, including the words for “hello,” “sit down,” “no,” “lie down,” and “good.”  Unfortunately there is no evidence that Koshik understands the meaning of the words that he is employing.  There have been reports of elephants imitating the sounds of truck engines, and additionally of an elephant at a zoo in Kazakhstan reported to say words in Russian and Kazakh…


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3 Comments on “Elephant Articulations!”

  1. carycomic Says:

    I look forward to the day when Koshik and Noc harmonize on a rendition of “Animal Fair.”


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