Monday, September 10, 2007

Alex the African Grey

Irene and Alex

RIP Alex the African grey parrot. He passed away suddenly last week at the age of 31. The average African Grey lifespan is 60 years old and they can live to be 100! A few years ago, Victoria and I had the chance to meet Dr. Irene Pepperberg - Alex's owner and the scientist (from Harvard and Brandeis) doing studies on the species and their cognitive abilities. According to Irene, Alex could "identify 50 different objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, quantities up to and including 6 and a zero-like concept." Research by Irene Pepperberg was said to have "shattered the generally held notion that parrots are only capable of mindless vocal mimicry." Her work showed that Alex had "the emotional equivalent of a 2 year-old child and intellectual equivalent of a 5 year-old."

Alex has been a source of inspiration to our family and a huge influence in helping us better understand and challenge our own grey and bestest friend, Percy.

Lillie and Percy

Alex's amazing abilities reminded us not only of Percy's potential, but of our own as well. Sorry to see you go, buddy.

Percy Loves Grapes

For more information on Alex and the incredible research Dr. Pepperberg has been working on since 1976, please click here.

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