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Alex & Me

by on December 30th, 2008
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Alex & me : how a scientist and a parrot discovered a hidden world of animal intelligence — and formed a deep bond in the process by Irene Pepperberg is my second blog post about parrots.  What does that say?  I guess I would really like to have a parrot, but after reading Alex & Me I realize my lifestyle is not right for a parrot.  I already feel guilty about leaving Calvin, the cat and Nellie, the dog alone all day and to throw a parrot, who needs the freedom to fly and have the stimulation if would find in the wild, into the mix just wouldn’t work, alas…

Pepperberg recounts the 30 years she spent with Alex, an African gray parrot. Pepperberg studies animal cognition and through her story of Alex she shares the resistance of the scientific community to her ideas that parrots are intelligent animals and possess much more than a "bird brain". Birds are smart, just watch a crow sometime.  Pepperberg and Alex lead peripatetic lives. With a doctorate in chemistry from MIT, Pepperberg decides she does not want to be a chemist and changes course.  Instead she decides to study language acquisition and animal cognition.  Initially there was skepticism and a lack of acceptance and Pepperberg struggled to find secure funding.  I recently heard heard Dr. Pepperberg interviewed on Fresh Air, take a listen, it will make you want to read the book even more.  Pepperberg has a foundation Alex & Me where you can learn more about her research and see some spectacular photos of Alex, Griffin and Arthur.  African grays can live a long time and the most difficult part of this book is that Alex dies at only 30.

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About Maeve

Where would you find me in the Library:
Reference Desk, upstairs
Interesting facts:
I have a dog and cat.
I was a Peace Corp volunteer in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I listen to National Public Radio all the time and maybe share what I hear too much.
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