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Maybe I’m just a little on edge because AI seems hell-bent on taking over the world, but this banana-peeling German elephant has got me nervous.
A video has been making the rounds of an Asian elephant named Pang Pha going to town on some bananas. Now, elephants are big on bananas — and have been for quite some time — but an elephant peeling one for itself? Now, that is something new.
You’ll see that Pang Pha has no trouble peeling a yellow-brown banana. That’s important because she hasn’t figured out how to peel yellow or green bananas yet. She still swallows those whole.
She doesn’t clean up after herself yet either, but I’m sure that’s on the way.
“We discovered a very unique behavior,” Michael Brecht, a neuroscientist at Humboldt University of Berlin, said in a release about Pang Pha’s aptitude for peeling fruit. “What makes Pang Pha’s banana peeling so unique is a combination of factors — skillfulness, speed, individuality and the putatively human origin — rather than a single behavioral element.”
It’s a shame Letterman isn’t on the air anymore to showcase stupid pet tricks like this one. I’m not sure if Pang Pha would qualify though. It’s not really a trick, it’s more mundane than stupid, and I’m not sure she counts as a pet either.
But hey, on a slow night with a weak first guest and Paul Schaeffer on vacation? They’d go for it.
Stupid Pet Trick Or Foreshadowing Of Elephant Evolution
This reminded me of Planet of the Apes. Not (only) because of the bananas, but because it was an example of a member of a species doing something its brethren had never done before. Like how Caeser could talk and ride a horse.
Then what did Caesar do? He taught the other apes and took over the world.
I just find it odd that for as long as elephants and bananas have co-existed, not one pachyderm managed to crack the code until Pang Pha came along and took matters into her own trunk. They’re progressing at an alarming rate.
While the video seems cute and harmless (especially if you play “Baby Elephant Walk by Henry Mancini over it), my concern is this: elephants are getting smarter. Everything is getting smarter. It’s banana peeling now, then it’s banana peeling but leaving the peels laying on the floor for people to slip on.
Before you know it, Pang Pha could be trunk-punching her keeper and stealing her wallet.
That level of dexterity freaks me out. There’s a lot of untapped potential with trunks. They’re an underrated appendage. The combination of a trunk and elephant brains is alarming. People always want to talk about how smart dolphins are, but they lack any kind of dexterity with those dumb flippers of theirs. I’m not scared of an animal that doesn’t have hands and thought living in the water despite breathing air was a good idea.
Now a banana-peeling elephant? That’s cause for at least some level of concern.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle