Alex the African Grey Parrot: Was Alex a Genius?

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Tonight, I will attend Irene Pepperberg’s reading where she will read from her new book about her friend and colleague, Alex the African grey parrot. Below is an interesting video showing some of what Alex was capable of doing, and it also provides a small glimpse into the relationship between Alex and Irene [2:06]


About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Alex the African Grey Parrot: Was Alex a Genius?

  1. Shecky says:

    I don’t think that Alex was a genius, just simply smarter than most Republicans… 😉

  2. Janice Boyd says:

    Alex may have been smarter than the average African grey (or maybe not–certainly not smarter than my grey Paula!), but he demonstrated the intelligence that exists to a greater or lesser degree on all parrots and, by extension, in most if not all animals. They are not unthinking, unfeeling beings that we can use without considering how they perceive our interactions with them. The female dog in a puppy mill is suffering. The fish suffocating in the bottom of the boat is suffering. The duck seeing its mate shot dead is suffering. The horse experiencing a good currying is feeling happy. Treat animals with the consideration a thinking, feeling creature deserves. (That doesn’t mean don’t eat them, but it does mean killing them without causing anxiety and pain.)