Big words: elephant 'speaks' Korean
An elephant in South Korean is imitating human speech, belting out a range of Korean words repeated by his human handlers.PT1M7S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-28qer 620 349 November 3, 2012
Scientists say an elephant in a South Korean zoo is using his trunk to imitate human speech.
An international team of researchers says Koshik can reproduce five Korean words by tucking his trunk inside his mouth and modulating the sound coming from his throat. The discovery was reported online on Friday on the website Current Biology.
Koshik can say "annyeong" (hello), "anja" (sit down), "aniya" (no), "nuwo" (lie down) and "joa" (good).
Chatty ... Scientists have confirmed that Koshik, a 22-year-old male Asian elephant, can clearly imitate Korean words. Photo: AFP
Researchers believe the Asian elephant learned to speak out of a desire to bond with his trainers after he was separated from two other elephants.
In 1983, zoo officials in Kazakhstan claimed their elephant could reproduce Russian words. But there was no scientific study.