Video: Researcher Unearths Decades-Old Recording of 'Talking' Duck

By Tim Binnall

A remarkable recording of a musk duck uttering the phrase "you bloody fool" has amazed researchers as it is reportedly the first documentation of such a creature demonstrating the ability to mimic human speech. Amazingly, the shocking display actually occurred around three decades ago, but was only recently rediscovered when an animal behavior professor in the Netherlands named Carel ten Cate noticed a passing mention of the case in an old book. "When I read it at first I thought, 'it’s a hoax, it can’t be true,'" he marveled, "but it turned out to be true."

The bird credited with the stunning feat was a musk duck named Ripper who resided at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Australia. It is believed that the animal picked up its proverbial catchphrase of "you bloody fool" from its handler. That said, the recording is somewhat open to interpretation as ten Cate speculates that the duck may actually have been saying 'food' instead of 'fool.' Explaining his reasoning for that theory, the animal behavior expert mused that "I can imagine that the caretaker would jokingly say, 'okay, here is your bloody food.'"

Regardless of what exactly Ripper was saying, there seems to be little doubt that the bird was imitating human speech. This is particularly impressive to scientists as the recording confirms previous undocumented observations of musk ducks mimicking sounds. The discovery of the long-lost material also suggests to researchers that this is may be an ability inherent in the species and not merely a solitary unique event. Alas, since the vocalization was recorded thirty years ago, Ripper has long since passed away and will not be available for any interviews.

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