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Listen: 6 animals that can imitate human speech

We’re not the only blabbermouths.

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Ever tried to talk to your pet?

In some cases, they might try to “talk back” through meows, woofs, or gestures.

But cats and dogs can’t master human language the way we can.


Neither can other animal species — though there are some with impressive mimicry skills that make it seem like they can talk to us.


Here are 7 remarkable animals that can imitate human speech:

6. Ducks

The musk duck, an aquatic species that lives off the coast of Australia, mimic sounds they hear in the wild — including human voices.

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Though their vocalizations aren’t a new discovery, it wasn’t until recently that researchers analyzed the species’ ability to learn humanlike sounds.


A September 6 report in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B asserts that the ducks have similar vocal learning abilities to parrots and songbirds.

5. Elephants

These animals have a remarkable ability to learn new sounds — including ones that humans make.

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In 2012, researchers working with a captive Asian Elephant named Koshik found that he could make noises that sounded like words in Korean.

Here, Koshik mimics the word “choah” (good) while working with a trainer.

Stoeger, A. et. al. / Current Biology
4. Orcas

In 2018, researchers reported that a captive killer whale was able to mimic human vocalizations.

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The orca was able to not only imitate a human voice, but English words played through a loudspeaker as well.

It was also able to make a specific noise on cue, prompted only by gestures.

3. Orangutans

Our primate cousins cannot speak the same way as us — but they can mimic some of the same sounds.

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In 2016, a group of scientists writing in the journal Scientific Reports shared that an orangutan named Rocky was able to mimic human speech tones, even though he couldn’t say words.

2. Ravens and crows

Musk ducks and pet parrots aren’t the only clever birds.

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Corvids, a groups of birds that include crows and ravens, also have the ability to “speak” like humans.

They might even enjoy the confusion that comes with mimicry.

1. Beluga Whales

Strange sounds from a beluga named NOC captured the attention of researchers in the 1980s.


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They think NOC was mimicking human voices that he heard above and below the surface of the water.

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