Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process

Front Cover
HarperCollins, Oct 28, 2008 - Pets - 240 pages
18 Reviews

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 famousótwo 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.

The fame that resulted was extraordinary. Yet there was a side to their relationship that never made the papers. They were emotionally connected to one another. They shared a deep bond far beyond science. Alex missed Irene when she was away. He was jealous when she paid attention to other parrots, or even people. He liked to show her who was boss. He loved to dance. He sometimes became bored by the repetition of his tests, and played jokes on her. Sometimes they sniped at each other. Yet nearly every day, they each said, "I love you."

Alex and Irene stayed together through thick and thinódespite sneers from experts, extraordinary financial sacrifices, and a nomadic existence from one univer≠sity to another. The story of their thirty-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
7
4 stars
5
3 stars
3
2 stars
3
1 star
0

Alex & Me

User Review  - boxerluvver - Overstock.com

I bought this for my husband for Father's Day. A friend recommended this book because we have an African Grey. I am looking forward to reading it after my husband. ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

2008
Not enough personal detail (what did her dad do for a living?), not enough anecdote, not enough ability to forget scientific objectivity and show us how much love she had for Alex, not enough discussion of his significance to science.

Contents

Qhafter i My Wonderful Life Moment
3
Qhafter 2 Beginnings
7
Alexs First Labels
61
Copyright

7 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Irene M. Pepperberg is an associate research professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and teaches animal cognition at Harvard University. She is head of the Alex Foundation and author of The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots.

Bibliographic information