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Elephant experts astound scientists

An elephant in Cambodia has been invited to the track by his keeper.  Archive the photo.
An elephant in Cambodia has been invited to the track by his keeper. Archive the photo.

The Asian elephant Bang Fa in Berlin, Germany, has astounded scientists. She taught herself to peel bananas, which is a rare behavior in the elephant world.

Bang Fa was a young calf when she came to the Berlin Zoo in 1987. Like most elephants in captivity, she was first presented with bananas with peels, which the animals usually devour whole.

But those present at Pang Pha treated the little girl like a princess and began peeling bananas for her. Years later, she learned to do it herself, reports CNN.

– When we heard she could peel bananas, of course we were excited, says Michael Brecht, a professor of neuroscience at Humboldt University, who and his research team conducted a study on Bang Fa.

It appears to be very rare for elephants to peel bananas, according to the study, which was published in the journal Current Biology.

Pang Pha only did this with bananas that were a bit yellow-brown and when she was alone, without her flock around her. Yellow bananas were swallowed whole and brown bananas were cut into pieces. The technique was to open the banana at the end, shake its contents on the ground, and then eat it.

The researchers asked why Bang Fa was the only one of the zoo’s elephants who peeled bananas. The solution to the mystery may lie in the fact that they were created by humans:

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“We hypothesize that she gained knowledge by observing people,” the research group wrote.