Scientists say an elephant in a South Korean zoo uses his trunk to pick up not only food but also human vocabulary.
An international team of researchers says Koshik can reproduce five Korean words.
The 22-year-old Asian elephant at the Everland Zoo in Yongin makes the sounds by tucking his trunk inside his mouth and modulating the sound coming from his throat.
The discovery was reported online Friday in Current Biology.
Researchers believe the elephant learned to speak out of a desire to bond with his trainers after he was separated from two other elephants.
The words that Koshik can mimic are clearly understandable to visitors.
In 1983, zoo officials in Kazakhstan claimed their elephant could reproduce Russian. But there was no scientific study.