O termo refere -se a animais que podem imitar (embora não necessariamente entendam) a fala humana. Papagaios, por exemplo, repetem frases da fala humana através da exposição. Havia papagaios que aprenderam a usar palavras no contexto adequado e tinham diálogos significativos com os seres humanos. Alex, um papagaio cinzento, entendeu perguntas sobre cor, forma, tamanho, número etc. de objetos e forneceria uma resposta de uma palavra para eles. Ele também está documentado por ter feito uma pergunta existencial. Outro papagaio cinzento, N'Kisi, poderia usar 950 palavras no contexto adequado, foi capaz de formar frases e até entendeu o conceito de tempo gramatical.
Os pesquisadores tentaram ensinar grandes macacos (chimpanzés, gorilas e orangotangos) falados com maus resultados, pois só podem ser ensinados a dizer uma ou algumas palavras ou frases básicas ou limitadas ou menos, e a linguagem de sinais com resultados significativamente melhores à medida que eles pode ser muito criativo com vários sinais, como os de surdos. Nesse sentido, agora existem numerosos estudos e uma extensa bibliografia.
Um proprietário ouve um cachorro fazendo um som que se assemelha a uma frase diz que a frase de volta ao cachorro, que então repete o som e é recompensada com um deleite. Eventualmente, o cachorro aprende uma versão modificada do som original. Os cães têm habilidades limitadas de imitação vocal, portanto, esses sons geralmente precisam ser moldados pela atenção seletiva e recompensa social.A dog on America's Funniest Home Videos named Fluffy, made noises that to some viewers resembled "I want my momma" after being asked "Do you want your momma?". Other videos showed other dogs making noises which to some viewers resembling "Run around", "I want it", "I love momma" and "Hello".Odie, a pug who produced noises resembling "I love you" on demand, made appearances on several television shows.Paranormal researcher Charles Fort wrote in his book Wild Talents (1932) of several alleged cases of dogs that could speak English. Fort took the stories from contemporary newspaper accounts.In 1715 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz published an account of his encounter with a talking dog that could pronounce about 30 words.Don, a German pointer born around the beginning of the 20th century, was a dog that was reputed to be able to pronounce a couple of words in German and became a vaudeville sensation as a result. Although most scientists at the time dismissed Don's capabilities, the author Jan Bondeson puts forward an argument that Don was genuinely capable of limited human speech and criticises the tests that were performed on Don at the time as having serious methodological flaws.In 1959 a German sheepdog by the name of Corinna living in Prague spontaneously developed a capability for limited human speech. According to the zoologist Hermann Hartwigg, published under the pseudonym 'Hermann Dembeck', Corinna 'holds the record in modern times for its talking prowess'.
Grandes macacos imitando a fala humana são raros, embora alguns deles tenham tentado fazê -lo frequentemente assistindo e imitando os gestos e vozes de seus treinadores humanos. Aparentemente, o controle de voz humano em grandes macacos não humanos pode derivar de um ancestral evolutivo com capacidades de controle de voz semelhantes. Isso inclui chimpanzés e orangotangos.Johnny (1944–2007), was a chimpanzee that could also clearly say the word "mama".In 1962, Bioparco di Roma, a chimpanzee named Renata could clearly say the word "mama" when praised by her trainer.Kokomo Jr., was a chimpanzee and mascot of the Today show, who was known to say the word "mama".Viki was a chimpanzee that could voice four words:mamapapaupcupTilda (born 1965, Borneo), is an orangutan who responds to her keepers in a human-like manner e.g. pointing to the food and repeating the word "Cologne Zoo" by controlling her lips and tongue, as well as manipulating her vocal chords. To do this, she clicks her tongue to produce various tones of her voice, and grumbles in a way that is comparable to humans making vowel sounds. She only does this during feeding time when she wants to attract her keepers' attention. This was mainly due to her former time being taught by a human trainer while she was in the entertainment business.Rocky (born September 25, 2004), resident of the Indianapolis Zoo, is an orangutan that can say the word "hi". He was the very first ape to produce sounds similar to words in a "conversational context". These sounds have been recorded in use and can be seen here. In the video, Rocky is participating in a training session wherein he is being asked to produce vocals outside of the typical orangutan "vocabulary." The Indianapolis Zoo made a public statement about Rocky's vocalizations and their implications for current and future studies.
Algumas das espécies de baleias dentadas, como golfinhos e botos, como baleias beluga e orca, podem imitar os padrões da fala humana.NOC, a captive beluga whale in the United States Navy's Cold Ops program, could mimic some words well enough to confuse Navy divers on at least one occasion.John C. Lilly's assistant Margaret Howe trained a dolphin named Peter to produce several words, including a credible "Mar-ga-ret".Wikie is an orca that can say "hello", "goodbye", and "Amy" (her trainer).