The killer whale which was recorded mimicking human speech could be saying “set me free”, says an animal campaign group.Scientists have recorded an orca named Wikie mimicking a trainer to say “hello”, count and blow raspberries.Critics say it only proves what is already known about whales’ intellect and doesn’t promote conservation.The charity Born Free’s president Will Travers said: “The natural place for a whale or dolphin is in the wild.””I can’t quite imagine why this is in the headlines as there are lots of different animals – lots of different species – that can mimic humans,” he added.”They could actually be saying ‘set me free’ for all we know.”Researchers had set out to discover whether orcas could learn new vocalisations by imitating others. Dr Josep Call, a University of St Andrews co-researcher on the study, said the findings showed whales were among a small group of animals able to mimic human speech. He said it showed basic “conversations” with Wikie could one day be possible.Scientist Dr Peter Evans, from Sea Watch Foundation – which works to improve whale conservation – said the study was an example of “anthropomorphism”- a human desire to see our own traits mirrored in animals.”We’re not… Read full this story
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