Hoover (seal)

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Born c. 1971
Died July 25, 1985(1985-07-25)
New England Aquarium
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Children 6[1]

Hoover (c. 1971 – July 25, 1985) was a harbour seal who was able to imitate basic human speech.[2]

He was an orphan when he was found by George and Alice Swallow in Maine in 1971. George and Alice decided to take him home. At first the baby seal didn't want to eat, but soon he ate at the pace of a vacuum cleaner (Hoover being a genericized trademark for a vacuum cleaner after The Hoover Company's epononymous product), hence his name.

When Hoover outgrew the bathtub, he was transferred to the pond outside their house where he began to imitate people's voices. Again he was moved, this time to the New England Aquarium, where he told visitors to "Get outta here!" or "Well Hello Deah" in a thick New England accent.[3]

Thanks to this, he became famous, and appeared in publications like Reader's Digest and The New Yorker and television programs like Good Morning America.[4]

Hoover died on July 25, 1985, due to complications during his annual molt.[1] His obituary was published in The Boston Globe.[3]


None of Hoover's six pups (daughters Joey, Amelia, and Trumpet and sons Lucifer, Cinder, and Spark)[1] spoke, but his grandson Chacoda (or "Chucky") has shown an ability to be guided in his vocalizations. As of 2007, Chucky remains vocal but has not shown an ability to mimic human speech. Aquarium staff continue to work with him.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Currier, Patricia A. (July 26, 1985). "Hoover Will Talk No More; A Delight To Thousands, Aquarium Seal Dies At Age 14". The Boston Globe. p. 2. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  2. ^ Fitch, W. Tecumseh (2000-07-01). "The evolution of speech: a comparative review" (PDF). Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Elsvier Ltd. 4 (7): 258–267. doi:10.1016/S1364-6613(00)01494-7. ISSN 1364-6613. PMID 10859570. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-03-08. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  3. ^ a b "The Smartest City on the Planet". Boston Magazine. October 2006. 
  4. ^ Biographical details for Hoover at the website for the New England Aquarium (accessed May 19, 2008).
  5. ^ Rebecca A. Fitzgerald (September 2, 2007). "Chuck the seal has a lot to say". The Boston Globe. 
  6. ^ "Ask the Globe". The Boston Globe. April 19, 1989. p. 56.