ORCA TAUGHT TO SPEAK
What did they do?
A team of researchers at the University of St Andrews taught Wikie, an orca based at Marineland Aquarium in Antibes, France, to imitate human speech.
What can she say?
The researchers picked words that were initially unfamiliar to Wikie. But by copying a trainer, she was able to say “hello” and “bye bye”, and count to three. And she’s a fast learner too – she often spoke the words correctly on her first try.
Why did they do it?
It’s known that orcas in the wild have calls that are specific to their own pod, and when captive orcas are moved, they change their call to fit in with their new companions. The researchers wanted to show that the animals learn these new calls by imitating the sounds that they hear.