Scientists have found a killer whale in France capable of imitating the sounds of other orcas as well as human speech, including the words “hello,” “Amy,” and “bye bye”.
The 14-year-old female named Wikie, housed in an aquarium in Antibes, was able to mimic words and make fart-like noises, according to a study published yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
A high-pitched and eerie voice uttering the name “Amy” is quite clear in the audio released by the study’s researchers.
“The results reported here show that killer whales have evolved the ability to control sound production and qualify as open-ended vocal learners,” they wrote.
Wikie learned to make human sounds when its blowhole was exposed to the air by copying a trainer at a marine park in France.
The study also showed the animal was able to copy unfamiliar sounds produced by other orcas.
“We have no evidence that they understand what their ‘hello’ stands for,” one of the researchers said. DPA