Parrot Memoir coming this fall

January 3, 2008 12:42:26 PM PST
The story of a Brandeis University scientist and her famous African grey parrot, Alex, whose untimely death last fall made news around the world, will be told in a book.

Irene Pepperberg's memoir, tentatively titled "Alex and Me," covers her 30 years with the parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials. It will be released this fall by Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins.

In a statement Thursday, the publisher called the book a story "of bonds built over time that transcend species barriers," and how Alex and Dr. Pepperberg "battled against the prejudices of the academic establishment, which debated rigorously the ability of any other species to learn the human language."

Alex's advanced language and recognition skills revolutionized the understanding of the avian brain. After Pepperberg bought Alex from an animal shop in 1973, the parrot learned enough English to identify 50 objects, seven colors and five shapes.

Alex was in his 30s when he was found dead in his cage last fall, well short of the African grey parrot's average life span of 50 years.