Korean elephant can talk, but only speaks Korean :(
An international team of scientists confirmed Friday what the Everland Zoo has been saying for years: Their 5.5-ton tusker Koshik has an unusual and possibly unprecedented talent.
The 22-year-old Asian elephant can reproduce five Korean words by tucking his trunk inside his mouth to modulate sound. Scientists say he may have started imitating human speech because he was lonely.
Koshik can reproduce "annyeong" (hello), "anja" (sit down), "aniya" (no), "nuwo" (lie down) and "joa" (good).
One of the researchers said there is no conclusive evidence that Koshik understands the sounds he makes, although the elephant does respond to words like "anja."
Everland Zoo officials in the city of Yongin said Koshik also can imitate "ajik" (not yet), but the researchers haven't confirmed the accomplishment.
Koshik is particularly good with vowels, with a rate of similarity of 67 percent, the researchers said. For consonants he scores only 21 percent.
Critical thinking challenge: Why do Koshik's keepers think he is saying Korean words instead of English words?
- Posted on November 2, 2012