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9 Animals You Didn’t Know Could Talk

These animals all have their own way of communicating with humans, and it's really amazing—and sometimes hilarious—what they say!

Common Raven (Corvus Corax) On the BranchAlekseyKarpenko/Shutterstock

Ravens

Julian may ask you, “What’s up?” but he’s the one with the interesting story! Julian is a raven who was found by a hiker in Vernon, Connecticut, when he was less than one year old. Sick and suffering from a broken, infected wing, he was sent to the rehabilitation center Horizon Wings to heal from his wounds—and has been there ever since. Even though he can’t fly anymore, that doesn’t seem to damper Julian’s spirit. He loves talking and has picked up many words and phrases just by listening to the people that visit and care for him. Aside from talking, ravens can also solve problems on their own without any help from a trainer. Talk about a talented bird!

Killer Whale - Orcinus OrcaTory Kallman/Shutterstock

Orcas

Wikie is an orca, also known as a killer whale, but there is nothing scary about this sweet orca who lives at Marineland of Antibes in France. Scientists were studying Wikie to learn if she could mimic human speech, and were they surprised when she did! Wikie can say a few words, including “Hello,” “Bye-Bye” and “Amy” (her handler’s name). When Wikie talks, it doesn’t quite sound like a human voice, but you can definitely tell what she is saying. Scientists say when animals can copy human speech, it is a sign they are very smart. Check out these adorable photos of 11 endangered animals.

Courtesy Bubus’s Owner

European starlings

Bubus, a European starling, was just a tiny baby bird when her owner found her in a driveway. As a species, European starlings tend to be pretty chatty. Her owner (who prefers to remain anonymous) says the bird started saying the words she would hear on a daily basis, like, “Hi Bubus,” “You’re so cute,” and “You’re so beautiful.” Bubus really loves her owner, staying close by her all the time. She’s not like a cat or dog, craving belly rubs or scratches on the head, but Bubus does love kisses from her owner. 

ElephantsCraig Morrison/Shutterstock

Elephants

Koshik, a 22-year-old elephant that lives in the Everland Zoo in South Korea, has been wowing visitors since 2006 with his ability to talk. But here’s the crazy thing, he doesn’t use his mouth to talk! In fact, if you see Koshik put his trunk in his mouth, it may be because he has something to say. You see, Koshik puts the tip of his trunk in his mouth to mimic the human voice. Not only can he match words, but he even matches the pith and timbre of conversation—that means he can speak in low or high tones. Unfortunately for us, he only speaks Korean.

Thinking Orangutan, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, MalaysiaDave Primov/Shutterstock

Orangutans

Rock, an orangutan who lives at Indianapolis Zoo, was even the subject of language research done in 2012 by Durham University. The research included a game that involved copying the different tones and pitches the researcher made. Rocky began to learn new vocal sounds and even matched the pitch of the person speaking. If someone spoke in a low voice, Rocky would respond in a low voice. One of Rocky’s most well-known sounds is what scientists call “wookiees” because they sound like Chewbacca from Star Wars. None of the other orangutans make this noise, only Rocky. Naturally, he loves to use it to get attention from humans.

Courtesy Amy Smotherman Burgess/Zoo Knoxville

African gray parrots

You’ve probably heard a parrot at the zoo or pet store say a few things as you walked by, but Einstein has an even bigger vocabulary! This 31-year-old African gray parrot who lives at the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee says at least 200 words and sounds! Einstein is always learning something new. For example, curator Teresa Collins and lead bird show trainer Adam Patterson said he recently started roaring like a tiger all on his own, and the trainers are teaching him to do that on cue. They ask her to make that sound and every time she does, she gets a special treat, like a sunflower seed. Einstein is one entertaining bird to watch! Check out these 12 other super smart animals.

Two Siberian huskies in a snowy landscapeKateChris/Shutterstock

Siberian huskies

Dogs can’t really use tongue or lips like we can to form words, but they try to speak by using the tones they hear from us often to say words that sound words such as “No” or “I want one” or “I love you.” For example, Blaze, a Siberian husky, sure sounds like he is saying, “No,” when his owner asks him to go to his kennel. His owner says he also will say, “I want one” when he wants a treat from his “grandmother.” Blaze loves to hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and go fishing with his owner in a kayak. Discover the other amazing ways animals act like humans.

Proud Dignified Superb Lyrebird in a Cool Composed Stance. Andreas Ruhz/Shutterstock

Lyrebirds

Lyrebirds in the wild or in sanctuaries like the Healesville Sanctuary in Australia can mimic just about anything they hear, from a laser gun in a video game to another bird in the wild. The sounds are so real it’s hard to believe a bird is making them and not a movie sound production studio. The lyrebird forest at Healesville Sanctuary has a pair of these chatty birds named Nova (male) and Reefton (female), who have created their own family and have raised four lyrebirds in the past nine years.

mango the bengel catCourtesy @JustMangoBrown

Bengal cats

Mango is a stunning Bengal cat who has what his dad calls “catversations” with him. Mango really does seem to listen and respond, and it’s absolutely adorable and funny to watch. Mango certainly loves to chat but his dad says his favorite thing to do is gives kisses and not just to dad but everyone he meets. He also loves to travel and has flown all over the country; he even has his own off-road stroller for sightseeing in comfort. Now, learn all about 15 animals you never knew existed.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and Realtor.com., among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.