Biology and You

You and the “other” Animals

Who was Mr. Ed, and do “talking animals” really exist?

Mr. Ed was “the talking horse” and a star of a television show in the 1960s. When he appeared to talk, the horse was actually responding to cues from his trainer. Movement of a small rope running from his halter through his mouth and held by the trainer off camera would cause Ed to move his lips as if he were speaking. In the real world, so far birds (like with most animal training, teaching a parrot or cockatoo to talk involves a combination of repetition and reward), dogs, cats, and even an elephant have been reported to mimic human speech. Not to be outdone, the current trend is, of course, Internet driven: people showing YouTube videos of animals “talking” to their owners—but in reality, it just sounds as if they are saying human words … if you stretch your imagination.


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