Alex The Parrot, An Apt Student, Passes Away

Alex with plastic numbers. i i

hide captionAlex the parrot was able to count up to the number 6 and could differentiate seven colors and shapes.

Mike Lovett
Alex with plastic numbers.

Alex the parrot was able to count up to the number 6 and could differentiate seven colors and shapes.

Mike Lovett
Pepperberg and Alex. i i

hide captionDr. Irene Maxine Pepperberg and Alex.

David Carter
Pepperberg and Alex.

Dr. Irene Maxine Pepperberg and Alex.

David Carter

Alex the famous African gray parrot, renowned for the landmark cognition research conducted by owner Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., has died at the age of 31. By learning elements of the English language to identify shapes, colors and sizes, Alex shattered the notion that parrots are only capable of mimicking words.

According to Pepperberg who is a faculty member at Brandeis University, Alex was able to identify 50 different objects, seven colors and shapes, and quantities of up to six. Alex also understood the concept of bigger and smaller and same and different. Pepperberg says they were in the midst of learning basic mathematics skills.

“This was a very amazing creature,” she says.

Alex also had the emotional level of a 2-year-old child, Pepperberg says. After repeating some learning trials dozens of times, Alex would become tired and throw objects off the trays with his beak. When visiting the veterinarian, Alex would go back in his cage and slam the door.

How would Alex say goodbye? Pepperberg says that she imagines it would sound something like what Alex would say to her every night before going to bed: “You be good. I love you. See you tomorrow.”

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