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.