He was only 31 when he died, that's no age for a parrot. He only weighed a pound but when he died it made the front page of the New York Times. What was it made this little creature so special? If you read Irene M Pepperberg's book you will understand.
This charming and loving memoir of a very special animal is a bitter sweet as of course we all know that Alex is no longer with us. Anyone who loves animals should buy and read this remarkable book.
Though this book has its flaws, it is also a very interesting, moving and intelligent read. It both gives an autobiography of Irene Pepperberg and her relationship with Alex, her parrot, and it discusses some of the research she conducted with Alex over a 30 year period.
This book's strength lies in its discussion of Pepperberg's interactions with Alex, and her own personal struggles to get the necessity and reliability of her research recognised. Descriptions of Pepperberg's own unhappy and difficult childhood and her relationship with birds are very moving, as are her discussions of her closeness with and respect for Alex. His untimely death was very evocatively described and remains a great tragedy to the research Pepperberg was carrying out, as well as a tragedy for animal lovers and a personal tragedy for Pepperberg.
The descriptions of the birds in this book are beautifully done and their characters are very interestingly and movingly described. For someone who knows little about birds, this book is an eye-opener and learning about not only the birds' intelligence but also their own unique character is very compelling. Alex, Griffin and other grey parrots and brilliantly described in this book, and Pepperberg allows the bird's own characters to appear. I did not expect to get such a beautiful picture of the character of the parrots in this book, and I was pleasantely surprised.
I suppose this book's strength is also its weakness: while I was very impressed with the moving descriptions of the birds and Irene's relationship with them, I was dissapointed that there was not very much detail about Pepperberg's research with Alex. I would have been very interested to read in more detail about the work she did with him. While there were some interesting points made, I felt they were not discussed in very much depth. However, I feel like this was not the purpose of the book. Pepperberg's other book gives a more detailed description of the Alex research: this one discusses her relationship with him, and his unique personality and the interest he aroused in so many people.
Whilst owning an African Grey I was interested in this story. It's very funny in parts and there are lots of characteristics that I can see in my own bird! I read whilst travelling to work on the train. Carry tissues - It's a very sad read!!! Loved every page turned - Didn't want it to end!!!
This book provides a wonderful insight in animal intelligence, but at the same time gives a personal account of a scientists struggle to get her work appreciated and the bond created between (wo)man and animal.
I even had to shed a tear when Alex suddenly died.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in animal psychology.
Very well written and interesting story about life venture of Alex the parrot and Dr. Pepperberg. Dr. Pepperberg describes difficulties, successes and emotions that accompanied her on the track of exploring and discovering cognitive abilities (and personalities) of African Greys. Story about truly amazing parrot and very determined and dedicated scientist. --- --- --- Alex learnt to use several English labels to name and describe the environment. He could distinguish and name colours, numbers, objects, materials they were made of and knew how to manipulate people by use of social phrases. Alex died in September 2007.
I had dimly heard of Alex but his abilities hadn't really struck me until I read his obituary in "The Economist". After having his story languishing on my wishlist for a while I finally cracked and bought it for myself. I have to say, I was mildly disappointed - it's much too short. It's a slim enough book anyway, but it's also double spaced, with lots of blank pages, so I read it easily in a couple of evenings. And it's topped and tailed with quite a bit of stuff about the aftermath of his death - letters of condolence, the "Economist" piece and so forth, which are understandably important to Pepperberg, but less so to the curious reader. I really wanted more anecdotes.
Nevertheless, I'm delighted I read it. I particularly liked the story about Alex telling Pepperberg to "Calm down! Calm down!" when she came stomping into the lab after a difficult meeting. In my mind's ear he said it in a Harry Enfield scouse accent - I always thought parrots sounded a tad scouse anyway (or is it the other way round?) She should have started quarrelling with him!
Saw this book as part of recent BBC documentary on the intelligence of animals. Brilliant awe inspiring book. Well worth reading. Confirms what I have always thought, that animals are intelligent creatures. The fact that Alex can actually put his thoughts into words amazes me. Not heavy going, just entertaining. If in any doubt, read it!
I got this book because I have an african grey parrot. Couldn't put the book down. He was a very clever bird and it was very sad when he died. It gave me ideas for teaching my own bird, and he now knows a few colours. A definite must read if you love birds.
Being a Grey owner and parrot owner this is one of the most famous birds in the birding world known. Alex was indeed a true marvel and shows the skills they can indeed learn and gain and this book shows how a true relationship can be built up and over the course of time the real brain capacity of this wonderful bird. Our own Grey is a marvel and this book has if anything helped us to appreciate how smart she is and built on our relationship with our own bird.