Here’s a program from our archives.
The Christmas season traditionally lasts twelve days, with the last night — January 5th, Twelfth Night — a time of feasts, songs, masquerades and plays. In several countries, legend has it that on the stroke of midnight at Twelfth Night, certain animals can speak. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
Now what the legend had in mind in particular were those animals in the stable –the oxen and the donkey — that had been present at Christ’s birth. But when we heard of a holiday that had talking animals associated with it, we thought it was a good excuse to trot out some of our favorite examples of loquacious creatures, in honor of Twelfth Night.
ambience: Rex the Starling
The first talking animal is Rex the Starling, who whistled Dixie and mimicked the voices of his human companions at a laboratory in the University of North Carolina
Now it’s well known that parrots and mynah birds can mimic human speech, but Alex the Parrot, trained by Dr. Irene Pepperberg, can apparently name over 30 objects and identify quantities and colors.
ambience: Alex the Parrot
Finally, we have Hoover the Harbor seal, a former resident of the National Zoo, in Washington, DC. Hoover mimicked his trainer and carried on a one-sided conversation with anyone who would care to listen.
ambience: Hoover the Harbor Seal
So here’s wishing you a Happy Twelfth Night, and if you happen to be up at midnight tonight, keep your ears open. You never know…
This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.