You may the whale who mimicked human speech. Well, it looks like we've got another contender for the "trying to speak like a human" title. This elephant has learned to speak Korean.

Koshik is an Asian elephant at Everland Zoo in South Korea, and appears to have learned to mimic a handful of words in Korean. Because an elephant makes noises in such an incredibly different way from humans, Koshik has to put his trunk in his mouth to accurately reflect the sounds.


According to the researchers, Koshik has a vocabulary of five words: "annyong" ("hello"), "anja" ("sit down"), "aniya" ("no"), "nuo" ("lie down"), and "choah" ("good"). The researchers have released a couple of sound bites of Koshik speaking, so anyone in the audience who actually speaks Korean can weigh in and let us know if it sounds even vaguely right.

It's not really clear how or why Koshik learned these skills. It's thought that it might have been during his adolescence, when he was the only elephant at the zoo, and was surrounded by human trainers and tourists. It'll be interesting to see if other elephants can be trained in the same way.