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Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process Hardcover – October 28, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Alex is the African gray parrot whose ability to master a vocabulary of more than 100 words and answer questions about the color, shape and number of objects—garnered wide notice during his life as well as obituaries in worldwide media after his death in September 2007. Pepperberg, who teaches animal cognition, has previously documented the results of her 30-year relationship with Alex in The Alex Studies. While this book inevitably covers some of the same ground, it is a moving tribute that beautifully evokes the struggles, the initial triumphs, the setbacks, the unexpected and often stunning achievements during a groundbreaking scientific endeavor spent uncovering cognitive abilities in Alex that no one believed were possible, and challenging science's deepest assumptions about the origin of human cognitive abilities. Pepperberg deftly interweaves her own personal narrative—including her struggles to gain recognition for her research—with more intimate scenes of life with Alex than she was able to present in her earlier work, creating a story that scientists and laypeople can equally enjoy, if they can all keep from crying over Alex's untimely death. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Alex, an African gray parrot, died suddenly in his 30s and was mourned the world over. Pepperberg, Alex’s owner and researcher, limns the importance of Alex’s life and her work with him on the subjects of intelligence, cognition, and language. Pepperberg started her academic career pursuing a doctorate in chemistry, but she changed her focus to animal communication. Choosing to work with an African gray, due to their reputations as clear talkers, the author had the pet store choose a bird for her so that the choice would be random. The result was Alex, a parrot that would forever change the way science looked at the cognitive abilities of birds. In this highly readable, anecdotal book, Pepperberg describes the training techniques she and her assistants used with Alex, the breakthroughs he made, and his growing fame as word began to spread about the brainy parrot who could differentiate colors, count, and describe objects accurately and in human language. The flip side of Alex’s fame was the resistance Pepperberg faced from the entrenched scientific community. --Nancy Bent
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But to fully appreciate them, we should let them be free in the wild. They've been evolving for millions of years to fly above the jungle and socialize with their peers. The same way we feel good when we use our arms and legs, and socialize with fellow humans because of our internal reward system that has been developing for thousands of generations, they are rewarded when they fly high and hang out with fellow greys.
That being said, if you're thinking about buying a parrot, buy this book instead. You'll be happier and you'll liberate yourself from the desire of keeping captive such an intelligent individual that was born to fly free.
Bond, which she realized even more so after he was gone. My daughter and I have (and still do) owned several parrots over the years. Each has it's own unique personality. Once, we even had a Blue Head Pionus that taught our Cockatiel to talk after we had tried for years to no avail ! You would never have believed the teacher/student speaking lessons that went on between them. The amazing thing was the Cockatiel was 15 and the Pionus was just 1 year old!
Boo will get my attention when he wants something, usually whining in a sing-song way like that is his way of "talking" to me. When I ask, "Do you want something?", his ears lift up waiting for my next words which are, "Show me."
Then he leads me to the kitchen for treats, or to the door for a walk or to a toy he wants to entice me to throw to him over and over again.
If I do not have time to respond, he drops to the floor like he is totally disappointed, depressed and he just "gives up."
He is quite a joy.
This book about Alex further reconfirms animal intelligence.
Boo's ability to come up with an idea, then through his creativity and communication skills convey that idea to me. He shows me that we share common feelings and ways of expressing those common feelings.
Most recent customer reviews
However, I found the intro very tedious, and almost gave up on reading this.