What if you could get a glimpse into the life and mind of one of the most extraordinary birds ever to live?
Now you can.
Life with Alex is a compelling film about non-human cognition and learning. Follow Alex, the African Grey parrot, and his colleagues: Dr. Irene Pepperberg, lab manager Arlene Levin-Rowe, and their student assistants. Learn about Alex's accomplishments and relationships, which changed forever what we know about how animals think. See never-before-released footage of Alex, in which he uses meaningful human speech to convey how he thought and felt every day.
By the time of his death at age 31, Alex had won the hearts of millions of fans around the world, having become as an ambassador for all creatures with whom we share this planet.
Join us as Life with Alex offers a window into the life and mind of this wondrous bird.
One of the most famous African Grey parrots in history, Alex pioneered new avenues in avian intelligence. He possessed more than 100 vocal labels for different objects, actions, and colors, and could identify certain objects by their particular material. He could count object sets up to the total number six and was working on seven and eight. Alex exhibited math skills that were considered advanced in animal intelligence, developing his own ‘zero-like’ concept in addition to being able to infer the connection between written numerals, objects sets, and the vocalization of the number. Alex was learning to read the sounds of various letters and had a concept of phonemes, the sounds that make up words.
Alex's personality was very evident in his everyday life. He was ‘in charge’ of his home and relished ordering ‘his’ humans to perform various tasks for him. He also acted as a coach and cheerleader to his fellow birds, Wart and Griffin, alternately encouraging or admonishing them during their lessons.
Purchased from a pet store at the age of 12-13 months in June of 1977, Alex came from humble beginnings. His accomplishments proved that African Grey parrots have an intelligence far beyond what was thought before his decades-long work with Dr. Pepperberg. On September 6, 2007, at the age of 31, Alex passed away of a sudden heart arrhythmia.
He will always be missed.
Dr. Irene Pepperberg
Dr. Irene M. Pepperberg is currently a Adjunct Associate professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and a Research Associate and lecturer at Harvard University. Her work has been featured in major newspapers and magazines in the United States, Europe, and Asia, as well as on television.
Her book, The Alex Studies, describing over 20 years of peer-reviewed experiments on Grey parrots, received favorable mention from many publications, including the New York Times and Science. Her memoir, Alex & Me, was a New York Times bestseller. She has presented her findings nationally and internationally at universities and scientific congresses, often as a keynote or plenary speaker, and has published numerous journal articles, reviews, and book chapters.
Dr. Pepperberg is President of The Alex Foundation, a not-for-profit organization which supports Pepperberg’s and her team’s research. More information about The Alex Foundation and Dr. Pepperberg can be found at their website, AlexFoundation.org.
Arlene Levin-Rowe was the the Lab Manager at the Pepperberg Lab at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA where she worked with Dr. Pepperberg, Alex, Griffin and Arthur. She held this position for 10 years and has also volunteered her time for The Alex Foundation since 2000. She has been interested in parrots all her life. Arlene and her husband Dave share their home with six parrots and two dogs. She recently founded Grey Parrot Studios LLC to produce Life with Alex.
Emily Wick, Director and Editor
Emily Wick is a filmmaker and painter living in Oakland, California. She also works as an archaeologist and completed her first documentary, 34-minute short “Buried Stories”, in 2008. At age 14, Emily dreamed of getting an African Grey parrot and teaching it to talk. Life with Alex is her first feature film. To see more of her work, visit her website.
Judy Irving, Consulting Editor
Judy Irving is an Emmy-and-Sundance-Award-winning documentary filmmaker whose latest feature, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, has been widely distributed via theatres, television, and download/streaming such as Netflix and iTunes. Judy’s other films include Dark Circle, a nonfiction feature about the nuclear industry, and Pelican Dreams, her in-progress documentary about brown pelicans and the people who know them best. More information about Judy Irving can be found on her website.
Paulette Nichols, Original Music
Paulette Nichols is a composer, singer, songwriter and piano teacher based in Oakland, CA. Her music has been featured on "Car Talk" and was recently part of a compilation on a real-live vinyl record made especially for Record Store Day. You can listen to more of her music here.
Buy the DVD
Life with Alex: A Memoir
This 55 minute video is a compelling tribute to the famous African Grey Parrot known as Alex. This DVD contains never-before-released footage of Alex using meaningful human speech to convey his daily thoughts and feelings. We learn about Alex’s daily life, relationships, and accomplishments, all of which changed forever what we know about how animals think.
Also included with this DVD are “Special Features” of Alex, Dr. Pepperberg and the students who worked with Alex.
A portion of the proceeds of this film will be donated to The Alex Foundation.
DVD Length: 55 Minutes
Release Date: September 2012
Directed by Emily Wick
Produced by Grey Parrot Studios
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