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Master of Scaremonies
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S.Korean park features talking pachyderm

Fri Sep 8, 7:35 AM ET

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.

"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.

"We are speculating that Kosik learned to speak as he spent a long time with his keeper," said Kwon Su-wan, head of the park's zoo. "We plan to conduct further studies with keepers, veterinarians and scientists on whether Kosik understands the meaning of these words as he speaks them."

Kosik will showcase his ability to the public starting Saturday at the park in Yongin, some 30 miles south of Seoul.

In a study published in the journal Nature last year, researchers found that elephants can learn to imitate sounds, according to Everland. The study featured the case of an elephant mimicking truck noises.

6,515 Posts
This guy's been working this job a little too long, methinks. The Methane from the pachyderm **** has reached his brain and has him hearing voices. What silliness! Some people will believe ANYTHING!
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