Elephant named Kaushik in Everland Zoo in the Korean city of Yongin learned to imitate the sounds of the human voice and to say a few words in Korean, say scientists in a paper published in the journal Current Biology.
Team of biologists led by Angela Steger (Angela Stoeger) of the University of Vienna (Austria) noted Kaushik after the many stories of the "talking" elephant from visitors and Korean Everland Zoo.
Steger and her colleagues visited Everland, recorded Sounds of Kaushik, studied their spectrogram and compared with similar graphs for the words uttered by the Koreans. The experiment confirmed the stories of visitors and zoo keepers — Elephant actually uttered the words in Korean.
According to the scientists, vocabulary Kaushik consists of five Korean words. The authors have found out what the word is pronounced elephant, with the original experiment.
Thus, scientists have gathered a group of 16 Korean volunteers who attended 47 audio and voice Kaushik told scientists what the words they heard. In this experiment, participants were not aware that they are listened to "speech" an elephant, not a person or a computer voice synthesizer.
It turned out that Kaushik says the words: "annong" ("hello"), "anyya" ("sit"), "aniyya" ("no"), "ing" ("lie") and "Choa" ("good" ). As they note, Kaushik better mimic vowel sounds than consonants. To simulate the human voice puts elephant's trunk in his mouth, as his vocal cords are not designed to communicate with people. With this elephant can make sounds that are very similar to the human voice, in that they can not ordinary elephants.
Biologists doubt that Kaushik aware of the importance of words which he had learned to utter. In addition, it remains unclear why the elephant has learned to imitate the sounds of human speech. According to them, this animal's behavior may be due to the fact that Kaushik five years he lived in one of the South Korean zoo, where he was the only elephant, and could only communicate with people.
"We believe that Kaushik began to imitate the sounds of human speech in order to strengthen social ties with his" friends "that sometimes occurs in the" communication "between the different kinds of animals that are able to learn new sounds," — concludes Steger.
As they note, this is not the first case when the elephants incriminating in imitating human speech or other sounds. In particular, some naturalists claim that African elephants are able to imitate the sounds of the truck, and the Indian elephant, living in one of Kazakhstan zoos supposedly imitates the Russian and Kazakh language. On the other hand, the stories of these "talking elephant" has not been verified by biologists.