I finished Alex & Me by Irene Pepperberg today. I received the book for a gift recently and read it over the course of a couple of weeks. I highly recommend it to everyone - especially to those who love animals.
I was not a bird owner when I heard the story on NPR on the afternoon of Alex's passing. I had not read about him and certainly hadn't seen his pictures, but for some reason the news affected me more deeply than I expected. It saddened me more than I expected.
During the course of the next days and weeks, I heard more and more about Alex. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, and many other news outlets featured stories about this miraculous animal that up to his death remained realtively unknown outside of the scientific community. When I later became a bird owner, the topic held greater importance for me and I put the book on my Christmas reading list.
Video from YouTube.com
Alex wasn't just a pet bird who learned a few words. He was teachable. This African Grey parrot learned how to learn. The studies opened my eyes to the fact that animals and our relationship with them is much deeper that it appears on the surface.
Pepperberg endured many hardships to continue her work. She had multiple employers, lost her husband, and in the end lost her best friend. But, her decades of research with Alex proved just how little we humans really know about animals and their true abilities.