- Wikie has become the first killer whale to mimic human speech.
- The 16-year-old female orca uses her blowhole to say words.
- Researchers say she might even be able to hold basic conversations with humans in the future.
A killer whale in France has become the first of its kind to mimic human speech.
Wikie, a 16-year-old female orca at a marine park in Antibes, has learned how to say “hello,” “bye bye,” and “Amy,” count to three, shriek, and blow raspberries, the BBC reported.
She made these sounds while partially submerged, with her blowhole – the human equivalent of a nose – exposed to the air.
Dr Jose Abramson, who led a scientific study on Wikie, said according to The Independent: “Killer whales use their blowhole to make noises, almost like speaking out of your nose, so we were not expecting it to be perfect.”
Have a listen in the clip below, via The Guardian:
Killer whales typically live in groups in the sea and develop their own dialects, the BBC said. They’re also one of the few animals in the world – alongside dolphins, beluga whales, and parrots – that can mimic the sounds of other creatures.
Orcas may even be able to mimic the sounds from other animals, such as dolphins and sea lions, The Guardian reported.
Abramson added that Wikie might even be able to hold basic conversations in the future.
He said: “It’s conceivable… if you have labels, descriptions of what things are. It has been done before with a famous grey parrot and dolphins using American sign language; sentences like ‘bring me this object’ or ‘put this object above or below the other.'”