This Orangutan Has Learned to Talk (Kind Of)

TIME

Researchers from Indianapolis Zoo and the University of Amsterdam have found that at least one orangutan living in captivity can produce sounds that qualify as “faux speech.”

The orangutan in question is 50-year-old Tilda, a Bornean female who resides at the Cologne Zoo in Germany. Researchers have discovered that she can produce consonant and vowel sounds in order to communicate with her keepers at feeding time, USA Today reports.

When she sees her keepers, Tilda claps her hands, emits a series of clicks or produces low guttural sounds. While the rapid sounds are unintelligible to humans, researchers were surprised to learn that the speechlike rhythms are deliberate.

„[It is] perhaps one of the best pieces of evidence thus far that great apes are capable of vocal learning, that is, that they exert sufficient control over all the elements of their vocal tract in sufficient degree to learn how to produce…

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