Alex, the African Gray Parrot, passed away this week.
He had been training with a group of linguists at Harvard and Brandeis, and in his 31 years had learned over 100 English words and the concepts associated with them. When asked, he could pick out the blue triangle from a set of symbols, and then tell you it was made of paper when he picked it up with his beak.
What struck me most about Alex's story when I heard about him on CBC Radio this morning, however, was his last 'conversation' with Dr. Pepperberg, the head of the lab.
From his New York Times obit:
"As she put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, she recalled, Alex looked at her and said: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”
The Buddha couldn't have said it better.