An elephant at a South Korean zoo has attracted the attention of an international research team amid reports that the animal can talk. According to zoo officials, 20-year old “Kosik” can vocalize at least seven words in Korean and the scientists are eager to learn how.
Twenty-year-old Kosik may be living proof that an elephant never forgets.
According to his keepers at the Everland theme park in Yong-in, Kosik has remembered and can vocalize at least seven words in Korean, words such as “hi” and “lie down” or “good.”
[Dr. Daniel Mietchen, Biological Scientist, University of Jena]:
“As far as we know Kosik is the only living elephant capable of this, but there are other elephants imitated other sounds like sounds of truck or other elephants.”
The scientists say that through Kosik they might be able to prove that elephants are capable of learning language, although they say it’s unlikely he understands the meaning of the words he expresses.
According to his keeper, Kim Jong-kap, Kosik’s pronunciation has improved a great deal since 2006, when Kim first heard him.
[Kim Jong-kap, Kosik's Trainer]:
“At first, he had made a simple sound, not some specific word. However, as time went by, he was vocalizing some words accurately.”
For zoo visitors, Kosik is a huge attraction in more ways than one. And for the scientists, the work ahead could break new ground… just as long as they can keep Kosik talking.
source: Korean Elephant Speaks