Thursday, September 13, 2007

Alex the Parrot Dies

A couple of articles from The New York Times about Alex the Parrot:

Thinking about animals — and especially thinking about whether animals can think — is like looking at the world through a two-way mirror. There, for example, on the other side of the mirror, is Alex, the famous African Grey parrot who died unexpectedly last week at the age of 31. But looking at Alex, who mastered a surprising vocabulary of words and concepts, the question is always how much of our own reflection we see. What you make of Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s work with Alex depends on whether you think Alex’s cognitive presence was real or merely imitative.


And another one...

He knew his colors and shapes, he learned more than 100 English words, and with his own brand of one-liners he established himself in television shows, scientific reports and news articles as perhaps the world’s most famous talking bird.

But last week Alex, an African gray parrot, died, apparently of natural causes, said Dr. Irene Pepperberg, a comparative psychologist at Brandeis University and Harvard who studied and worked with the parrot for most of his life and published reports of his progress in scientific journals. The parrot was 31.