Elephant Capable of Humanlike Sounds

By | September 9, 2006

He’s no Dumbo the Flying Elephant but with his ability to “speak,” perhaps as close to the Disney cartoon character as a real life elephant can get.

The Everland amusement park said Friday its 16-year-old male Asian elephant, named Kosik, can make sounds imitating up to eight Korean words, including “sit,” “no,” “yes,” and “lie down.”

The pachyderm produces humanlike sounds by putting his trunk in his mouth and shaking it while exhaling – similar to how people whistle with their fingers. But the park said it’s unclear if Kosik knows the meaning of the sounds he makes.

Kim Jong-gap, who has been Kosik’s keeper for 10 years, said he first heard the elephant speak two years ago.

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“It was hard to believe myself at first,” Kim said in a statement. “As I watched Kosik say something after that, I realized he was mimicking my words.”

There have been studies that suggest elephants can mimic sounds, but the park claims that Kosik displays the ability to imitate a human voice.

Spectrograms show Kosik’s voice frequency when he makes human sounds are similar to his keeper’s, Everland said. – more

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