Not Goodbye-Just So Long for Now

The shift from spring to summer is an important seasonal milestone. While spring symbolizes growth and new beginnings, summer brings endless possibilities and harmony.

Much like the seasons the Pepperberg lab experienced substantial change last month and expects to see many more transformations in the coming months. Some positive, and some unexpected, but in the end all the change is important and projected to strengthen our lab.

Our first major news is that we are moving to a different lab space. As fans of the Pepperberg Lab, the Alex Foundation, and Alex the Parrot know, Dr. Pepperberg and her research have traveled all over the country. Beginning in Arizona and until recently residing at Brandeis University, Dr. Pepperberg has worked in a diverse array of unique workspaces. We have always been on a year-to-year contract at Brandeis, but this year they have decided not to renew our contract to keep our lab here due to space restrictions. We are investigating several offers and are currently weighing our options. We appreciate the opportunity Brandeis provided us in renting space from their Foster Research building for several years.

This month also marks the end of my time with the Alex Foundation. As part of an Environmental Internship program, I set out this semester to better understand African Greys (listed as endangered on Appendix II of the CITES) and help expand public awareness through social media. I worked extensively with the Alex Foundation, since it functions as a nonprofit organization thatpandrillus supports research to expand our understanding of the cognitive and communicative abilities of parrots. What especially intrigued me was that the lab’s efforts were designed to encourage the responsible ownership, conservation, education and preservation of parrots. As an intern, I managed our Facebook and Twitter accounts and electronically spread our message.

Besides creating these blogs and helping with other assignments, I acted as a liaison for a clinic we are coordinating with known as Pandrillus Projects. Pandrillus Projects is a collection of captive care and breeding clinics that collaborate with government, communities, other NGOs, zoos, and the private sector to care for and rehabilitate threatened Mandrillus primates. Pandrillus Projects is located in Nigeria and Cameroon. We have been working primarily with the Limbe Wildlife Center and their unexpected arrival of African Greys. While Pandrillus primarily takes care of primates, the Limbe sector has received an overwhelming number of injured Greys confiscated from poachers over the past few years. As a Nigerian and American registered nonprofit organization, Limbe has limited funds to provide for these birds.   In accordance with our mission to encourage “conservation and preservation of parrots in the wild” and improve “the lives of all parrots worldwide”, we decided to offer Pandrillus our support the best we could.

We have sent medicine and supplies, as well as a limited number of test cages to see how they manage in Cameroon humidity. If the cages can sustain the weather, we plan to send more cages, since the rescued Greys currently reside in overcrowded primate cages. Pandrillus is doing all that they can to selflessly help, and we believe we need to show our complete support as well.

limbe-300x225Recently, we started our Sterner Family Challenge. As was aforementioned on Facebook and Twitter, if we raise $10,000 by July 4th the Sterner family will donate another $10,000 to aide our efforts at the Alex Foundation. As a non-profit organization, we appreciate every single donation; every cent helps! This ties into the concept of the “latte factor”. The idea is even if you feel that you cannot donate much and therefore it wouldn’t be worth it, if large amounts of people give up luxury items, like lattes, for a few days and instead use the small amount of money to support a cause, the combined impact would be remarkable. While we’re not telling you to give up your morning coffee, you might consider giving up some extra purchase you normally make and support a cause in need.

In research, the lab continues studies that we mentioned in past blogs and published articles. Some of these projects include Bigger Smaller, Numbers, Colors, and Shapes. We also have been implemented some newer studies. While most of them are still in the preliminary stages and cannot be thoroughlysfdocfest-225x300 discussed until published, we can tell you they focus on an African Grey’s understanding of reversal studies in relation to ecological influences on ephemeral objects.

Last but not least, the Alex Foundation was recently invited by SF Indiefest to screen Life with Alex at the San Francisco Documentary Festival on opening night. For those of you unfamiliar with the San Francisco Documentary Festival, it is one of three festivals SF Indiefest puts on annually. We are absolutely thrilled by this honor, and hope that anyone and everyone that lives nearby partake in this incredible event.

This link, http://prod3.agileticketing.net/websales/pages/info.aspx?evtinfo=56641%7E50c99741-ceec-4bfa-94b4-b7d919a3c410, provides more details regarding the dates and the theaters that plan on showing our film.

The first airing will be on June 8th, 9pm, at the Roxie Theater. Dr. Pepperberg will be attending and plans to be available for book and DVD signings. See you all there!

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All in all, a significant amount of energy coursed through the Pepperberg Lab and Alex Foundation this past semester and year. It proved to be an incredible experience, and I am honored that I helped through my participation. Although my time with the Pepperberg lab and Alex Foundation is coming to an end, a new chapter in the lab’s and my life is just beginning. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Our research at the Pepperberg lab has always been fueled by its fan’s passion and respect for our work. As long as we keep a strong work ethic, a positive mindset, and our dreams strong, we are sure to succeed at any endeavor we pursue!

You be good,
Eduardo

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5 Comments
  1. Best wishes with all the upheaval. Will contributions to the Sterner Matching Fund sent by mail to the Brandeis address be received, given the moving of the lab? If not, is there an alternative address?

    • Yes continue to send contributions!! Every donation is appreciated, and we can assure you that everything sent to our Brandeis address will either be given to us directly or forwarded to our new location. We should still be at Brandeis during the Challenge anyways, so their’s no reason to worry!

  2. Although we have made our contribution in anticipation of meeting the $10,000 requirement for the Sterner Challenge, we have noted that the total amount contributed has not been updated since 6-10. Just wanted to know how its going in hopes that the contributions are closing in on the targeted amount.

    Also, our contribution was made before we could add the note that this was being given in loving memory of Wart. Being that our Rose (TAG) is a very cherished family member, we increased our contribution to honor Wart, and just wanted everyone at Pepperberg Lab / Alex Foundation to know that we were very deeply saddened by his passing.

    With our best wishes for continued success,

    George & Rose (TAG)

    • Thank you so much for your contribution! It’s thanks to people like you that I am happy to say that we have reached our goal of $10,000!

      Thank you for your condolences, Wart was a cherished member of our family here at the lab and we all miss him deeply.

  3. 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.

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