Sunday, 2 October 2011
Alex & Me by Irene M Pepperberg
Author: Irene M Pepperberg
Publisher: Scribe Publications
On September 6, 2007, an African Grey parrot named Alex died prematurely at age thirty-one. His last words to his owner, Irene Pepperberg, were "You be good. I love you."
What would normally be a quiet, very private event was, in Alex's case, headline news. Over the thirty years they had worked together, Alex and Irene had become famous—two pioneers who opened an unprecedented window into the hidden yet vast world of animal minds. Alex's brain was the size of a shelled walnut, and when Irene and Alex first met, birds were not believed to possess any potential for language, consciousness, or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Yet, over the years, Alex proved many things. He could add. He could sound out words. He understood concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none. He was capable of thought and intention. Together, Alex and Irene uncovered a startling reality: We live in a world populated by thinking, conscious creatures.
Being an animal lover and a bird owner I could not resist this book. Irene presents us with undeniable data that humans and primates are not the only intelligent creatures (which all animal lovers are already aware of.) She also gives us a fascinating insight into, what I imagine, is only a fraction of the hard work, dedication and set backs that such research involves.
Irene's commitment to her research and to Alex was truly inspiring, many people in a similar situation would have given up.
A remarkable and inspiring read that leaves you wondering what the household pet or even the birds in your garden are really thinking and what they would say if they could talk. A must read for any animal lover.