This killer whale has learned how to say 'hello,' 'bye bye,' and count to 3

  • Wikie has become the first killer whale to mimic human speech.
  • The 16-year-old female orca uses her blowhole to say words.
  • Researchers say she might even be able to hold basic conversations with humans in the future.


A killer whale in France has become the first of its kind to mimic human speech.

Wikie, a 16-year-old female orca at a marine park in Antibes, has learned how to say "hello," "bye bye," and "Amy," count to three, shriek, and blow raspberries, the BBC reported.

She made these sounds while partially submerged, with her blowhole — the human equivalent of a nose — exposed to the air.

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Wikie the killer whale
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Wikie the killer whale
Wikie (L), a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, December 12, 2013. Wikie, gave birth three weeks ago to a calf which now weighs 150kg (330 pounds). REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS)
Wikie (bottom), a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, December 12, 2013. Wikie, gave birth three weeks ago to a calf which now weighs 150kg (330 pounds). REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS)
Wikie (bottom), a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, December 12, 2013. Wikie, gave birth three weeks ago to a calf which now weighs 150kg (330 pounds). REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Wikie (R), a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, December 12, 2013. Wikie, gave birth three weeks ago to a calf which now weighs 150kg (330 pounds). REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS)
Wikie (L), a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, December 12, 2013. Wikie, gave birth three weeks ago to a calf which now weighs 150kg (330 pounds). REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS)
Wikie (L), a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, December 12, 2013. Wikie, gave birth three weeks ago to a calf which now weighs 150kg (330 pounds). REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS)
Water splashes as Wikie (L), which measures 5m20 and weighs 2 tonnes, the mother of Moana, her 16-month-old killer whale, jumps out of the pool onto the side at the Marineland aquatic park in Antibes July 31, 2012. Amy Watson (R) is the sole trainer of Moana, a male which measures 3m50 and weighs some 800 kg, which was born at the park in March 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
Animal caretaker Amy Walton (2ndR) is seen with Wikie (L), which measures 5m20 and weighs 2 tonnes, and Moana, her 16-month-old killer whale, at the Marineland aquatic park in Antibes July 31, 2012. Watson is the sole trainer of Moana, a male which measures 3m50 and weighs some 800 kg, which was born at the park in March 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
Animal caretaker Amy Walton (R) is seen with Wikie (L) and Moana, her 16-month-old killer whale, in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes July 31, 2012. Watson is the sole trainer of Moana, a male which measures 3m50 and weighs some 800 kg, which was born at the park in March 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
Wikie (2ndL) and Moana (L), her 16-month-old killer whale, perform at the Marineland aquatic park in Antibes July 31, 2012. Moana, a male killer whale, measures 3m50 and weighs some 800 kg, was born at the park in March 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
Wikie (L) a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, April 18, 2011. Wikie, who was artificially inseminated at the aquatic park by a killer whale donor from San Diego, gave birth last month to a female calf after an 18-month period of gestation. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
Wikie (R) a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, April 18, 2011. Wikie, who was artificially inseminated at the aquatic park by a killer whale donor from San Diego, gave birth last month to a female calf after an 18-month period of gestation. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
Animal caretakers play with Wikie, a killer whale, and her calf (R) in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, April 18, 2011. Wikie, who was artificially inseminated at the aquatic park by a killer whale donor from San Diego, gave birth last month to a female calf after an 18-month period of gestation. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
Wikie (R) a killer whale, swims with her calf in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, April 18, 2011. Wikie, who was artificially inseminated at the aquatic park by a killer whale donor from San Diego, gave birth last month to a female calf after an 18-month period of gestation. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
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Dr Jose Abramson, who led a scientific study on Wikie, said according to The Independent: "Killer whales use their blowhole to make noises, almost like speaking out of your nose, so we were not expecting it to be perfect."

Killer whales typically live in groups in the sea and develop their own dialects, the BBC said. They're also one of the few animals in the world — alongside dolphins, beluga whales, and parrots — that can mimic the sounds of other creatures.

Orcas may even be able to mimic the sounds from other animals, such as dolphins and sea lions, The Guardian reported.

Abramson added that Wikie might even be able to hold basic conversations in the future.

He said: "It's conceivable... if you have labels, descriptions of what things are. It has been done before with a famous grey parrot and dolphins using American sign language; sentences like 'bring me this object' or 'put this object above or below the other.'"

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