01 March 2009

A whistling Orangutan and speech therapy parrots

The Torygraph has been a useful source of blog fodder for An Beal Bocht recently. This trend seems set to continue with news from the National Zoo in Washington that Bonnie, a 32 year old Orangutan, has taught herself to whistle.

Bonnie’s keeper, Erin Stromberg, said: “I think what makes it significant is that you can train apes to whistle, but no one trained her to do it. She decided to do it on her own,"

The zoo said that Bonnie taught herself by listening zoo keepers who whistle while they work. She is also thought to have taught another orangutan called Indah to whistle too.

Mr Stromberg helped researchers study her behaviour for a paper published in Primates by whistling basic patterns to see whether Bonnie could copy them. They found that her behaviour disproves the argument that orangutans have no control over their vocalisations and their sounds are purely involuntary responses to stimuli such as predators.

Here is Bonnie in action. She may not be a virtuoso whistler but she’s already better than me!

Meanwhile there is a recent report on the amazing recovery of American firefighter Brian Wilson, who was seriously injured in a traffic accident and never expected to be able to speak beyond the level of a two year old.

Mr Wilson claims that the chatter of pet parrots helped his regain the power of speech. "Two birds taught me to talk again," he said. "I had such a bad head injury I was never supposed to talk any more than a two-year-old." But two of the birds that he had had as pets since he was a child "just kept talking to me and talking to me. Then all of a sudden, a word popped out, then two, then more."

To show his gratitude Mr Wilson has devoted his life to feathered pets whose owners are no longer able or want to keep them. He now shares his home with about 80 brightly plumed exotic birds, from snow-white cockatoos to scarlet or blue and green macaws to African grey parrots. "You wonder why I rescue birds? They helped me to talk again, so now I take care of them," he said.

No witty (or otherwise) comment here


CherryPie said...

She will be talking next!!

Sean Jeating said...

I am with you there, CherryPie. Would be nice to listen her chatting with Mr. Wilson and his parrots.
Jams, thanks as ever. I need exactly this very post.
How's you leg doing?

jams o donnell said...

It wouldn't surprise me Cherie!

Now that would be a sight to behold Sean! Still in a lot of pain sadly but not as much as a few days ago!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

A 32 year old ape learns to whistle. A 34 year old woman can make harmonic noises full of soaring musical joy on her armpits.

I need to seek out this ape so we can form a band.

jams o donnell said...

Wow EWBL you should go mega platinum!