It is very interesting to know, what animals talk about! In winter, you can listen, how the rutting snow leopard call, attracting a mate for breeding. In spring, the orange shelducks and colourful red-breasted geese compete for the breeding territories, and their battle sounds spread all over the zoo even late in the evening. Besides, animals use sounds very inventively, when they need something from keepers. This small cheetah is singing out the true opera aria explaining to a keeper, that he certainly must go for a walk, and it is not his business that the whether is bad!
However, animal sounds can not be directly translated to human language. Humans also possess by nonverbal sounds, analogous to animal sounds, such as crying and laughing. Please listen some kinds of “nonverbal” sounds produced by zoo visitors. Although it is clear in general, what these laughing children want to "say", but the laugh itself can not be translated directly into human words. The same problem exists also with translation from the animalish to human language.

In Moscow zoo, we study the animal language. It is not only interesting, but also useful, because animals can talk with sounds about their needs, what they like or not and provide a lot of other important information. For example, this call of a male cheetah says that the female, whose smell he is feeling now, is ready to mate, then he should come to her. And these "soliciting" calls of a young dhole, directed to pack mates, say that although he is large, but not pretends to dominate, so he should not be driven away but stay in a pack and hunt with it.
Calls, produced by white-faced whistling ducks, prompt a caller's sex. Neither exterior, not behaviour provide such information. Both male and female whistling ducks look just the same, built the nest together, sit on eggs and care of chicks. At the same time, the birds can be easily sexed by their calls. Please listen the male and female calls and sure that they are clearly distinctive to each other.

Now we conduct in Moscow Zoo a research on call-based sexing for other six species of ducks  and for two rare crane species – Red-crowned and Siberian. It is impossible to determine sex of cranes by exterior, especially at the early age. However, cranes form family relations enough early, in order to habituate to each other and to establish tight pair bonds. So, cranes should be sexed enough early - otherwise there is a danger to establish a female-female or male-male pair, or to send to the other zoo a bird of a wrong sex instead of the ordered one. Up to now a single sexing technique is capture and blood sampling for DNA-analysis - the manipulation, that is naturally hated by chicks. The call-based sexing should be much better for animals and more convenient for people. Besides, the DNA-based sexing is expensive and can be conducted only in a specially equipped laboratory. Sound recordings of crane chicks are much cheaper, and any keeper, after short training, is able to check them for identity with computer-stored standards for each sex.
The preliminary data on crane chicks' sexing encourage us to continue our study. The future studies had to be done with parrots and birds of prey, whose sexing represents a problem in captivity.


Support the scientific project of Moscow zoo on studying the animal language and the educational INTERNET project - the Animal Sound Gallery! For this study, we need professional equipment for audio and video recording and special licensed software for animal sound analysis.
In response, we'll show to our sponsors the "scientific kitchen". You will be able to see, not only to listen animal sounds and to know, which methods and technologies are applied for studying animal language. You can take with you the audio recordings of vocalizations of you pet dog or cat and to look over the most preferable calls from it's vocabulary.

Wait for your support, and invite everybody to listen the variable chorus of zoo animals!
If you want to help with studying the animal language, please contact with Ilya Volodin by e-mail volodinsvoc@mail.ru or by phone (495) 254-23-04.

We are sincere grateful to our sponsor -the firm INFOSECUR (www.infosecur.ru) for the special discounts on sound recording equipment.

We thank Institute for Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research, Berlin (www.izw-berlin.de) andDeutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for financial support of presentation of bioacoustical studies on scientific conferences in Germany.

We thank Russian Foundation for Basic Research (www.rfbr.ru), which support the research of animal vocal behaviour in Moscow Zoo (grant 03-04-48919: «Estimation of the occurrence and communication significance of biphonations, subharmonics and laryngeal noise in mammalian calls » and grant 06-04-48400: "Development and maintenance of stability of individual vocal characteristics in bird and mammalian vocalizations)