Hoover the talking seal

"Hey, handsome, what's your name?" asks seal trainer Jacquie Buehler. "Hoover," answers this nine-year-old New England Aquarium seal who was found beached as a baby in southern Maine. "Hello, there, how are you?" and "come over here" are also staples in Hoover's admittedly limited vocabulary. "He sounds like Louis Armstrong talking," says Ms. Buehler.Hoover is the first harbor seal she knows of to imitate the human voice. "But he doesn't just talk. He laughs." Hoover started out making natural, throaty harbor seal noises. He played with the sounds until he could mimic words he hears often. Hoover's parrot-like mimicry has spurred trainers to teach other seals to "talk."

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