Another one of Dr.Pepperberg's greys dies

Sad news I just came across recently. Dr. Pepperberg has lost another grey. I happened to go on the alexfoundation site and was horrified to learn that Griffin, AKA Wart, died of PDD earlier this year!!! Three years ago, when I was searching for a parrot to adopt from a rescue, I became obsessed worrying about bringing home a bird with the virus and exposing my grey. Fortunately destiny led me to my little senegal at my vet. She has a serious case of bird jealousy but no PDD (that we know of). It’s hard to believe of 3 greys in Dr. Pepperberg’s lab, she is down to one.

it’s the huge amount of stress they live under. Dr. Pepperberg is very good at what she does but she gives those birds a terrible life.

The other factor is that now Dr. Pepperberg’s lab is contaminated and the remaining grey is at risk of passing the same way. PDD (and the responsible virus that is presumed to cause it) are highly contagious and difficult to know if a location is truly free of the virus even after the infected bird dies. So I suspect that will be the end of her research. Otherwise she will need to move labs and stop interacting with the remaining bird…lest she be a contamination and infection risk to the new birds.Can’t say I’m particularly unhappy (minus the grey’s death) though, her research is brilliant but the conditions for those greys are terrible. For trying to prove their intelligence so much she does them a great disrespect by taking such a sentient, intelligent animal and making it mindlessly and repetitively answer questions all day long.

I agree 100%. Her research is 100% self-serving and of no use whatsoever to the parrots themselves. If anything, it has created an expectation that shouldn’t be there. A bird lover is not going to love a bird more or less because it’s proven or not that the bird is super intelligent but it will make a difference to somebody who acquired a parrot expecting something the parrot doesn’t not give…Besides, she is the most mercenary, inconsiderate and self-centered person I’ve ever met.

Grey_Moon Pajarita I agree, I guess the research could prove a point, but at what cost? I can’t believe she would submit the parrot to hours of endless training and boredom just to prove parrots are intelligent. Selfish and morally wrong. I would never support bad living conditions for parrots and I’m sure everyone else on the forum feels the same way.

It is morally wrong that most humans believe there is some type of divine uniqueness that makes us superior to all other forms of life. Every in-depth study of animal intelligence, especially those with such bold findings as Dr. Pepperberg’s, serves to challenge this notion of divine superiority that most people hold. Ideally and ultimately, scientific knowledge about the intelligence and other aspects of sentience of animals pervades into policy. This means that this kind of work can have a larger impact on animal welfare and environmental protection than any individual, non-scientist parrot owner ever could. I would also like to point out that Dr. Pepperberg’s parrots must not have it too bad. They get way more attention than most domestic parrots ever do, and they receive vet care. Although the tedium must be unpleasant for them at times, they do not have to fear predation in the wild, they have lots of companionship with each other and with humans, and they receive veterinary care. Maybe they experience other rough conditions in the lab, but I do not know what they might be as I have not looked into it in depth. They find ways to make light of their situation by turning the Q&A’s into games in which they tell the humans wrong answers, which must help them make it more entertaining. Dr. Pepperberg acknowledges that it’s unfortunate she has to question them so repetitively, but that’s what it takes for something to obtain statistical significance and achieve scientific validity – something that higher-ups might actually listen to. Lastly, to say that she is inconsiderate and self-centered only seems at all reasonable if you have actually met her and know her well. Maybe you do, but that strikes me as unlikely. A life in academia doing research is not a mercenary thing to choose, especially as a woman… it’s a risk, actually – a risk that you will never obtain a permanent position, a risk that you will go for periods of time without a funding source, etc. Going into academia is a sacrifice for what one sees as the higher cause of knowledge that can have a positive impact on the world. It’s generally not something that the most selfish people on the planet do (if you want to find those people, I would suggest trying politicians and businessmen…). Just my two cents.

caprifolia wrote:It is morally wrong that most humans believe there is some type of divine uniqueness that makes us superior to all other forms of life. Every in-depth study of animal intelligence, especially those with such bold findings as Dr. Pepperberg’s, serves to challenge this notion of divine superiority that most people hold. Ideally and ultimately, scientific knowledge about the intelligence and other aspects of sentience of animals pervades into policy. This means that this kind of work can have a larger impact on animal welfare and environmental protection than any individual, non-scientist parrot owner ever could. I would also like to point out that Dr. Pepperberg’s parrots must not have it too bad. They get way more attention than most domestic parrots ever do, and they receive vet care. Although the tedium must be unpleasant for them at times, they do not have to fear predation in the wild, they have lots of companionship with each other and with humans, and they receive veterinary care. Maybe they experience other rough conditions in the lab, but I do not know what they might be as I have not looked into it in depth. They find ways to make light of their situation by turning the Q&A’s into games in which they tell the humans wrong answers, which must help them make it more entertaining. Dr. Pepperberg acknowledges that it’s unfortunate she has to question them so repetitively, but that’s what it takes for something to obtain statistical significance and achieve scientific validity – something that higher-ups might actually listen to. Lastly, to say that she is inconsiderate and self-centered only seems at all reasonable if you have actually met her and know her well. Maybe you do, but that strikes me as unlikely. A life in academia doing research is not a mercenary thing to choose, especially as a woman… it’s a risk, actually – a risk that you will never obtain a permanent position, a risk that you will go for periods of time without a funding source, etc. Going into academia is a sacrifice for what one sees as the higher cause of knowledge that can have a positive impact on the world. It’s generally not something that the most selfish people on the planet do (if you want to find those people, I would suggest trying politicians and businessmen…). Just my two cents.Couldn’t agree more

caprifolia wrote:It is morally wrong that most humans believe there is some type of divine uniqueness that makes us superior to all other forms of life. Every in-depth study of animal intelligence, especially those with such bold findings as Dr. Pepperberg’s, serves to challenge this notion of divine superiority that most people hold. Ideally and ultimately, scientific knowledge about the intelligence and other aspects of sentience of animals pervades into policy. This means that this kind of work can have a larger impact on animal welfare and environmental protection than any individual, non-scientist parrot owner ever could. I would also like to point out that Dr. Pepperberg’s parrots must not have it too bad. They get way more attention than most domestic parrots ever do, and they receive vet care. Although the tedium must be unpleasant for them at times, they do not have to fear predation in the wild, they have lots of companionship with each other and with humans, and they receive veterinary care. Maybe they experience other rough conditions in the lab, but I do not know what they might be as I have not looked into it in depth. They find ways to make light of their situation by turning the Q&A’s into games in which they tell the humans wrong answers, which must help them make it more entertaining. Dr. Pepperberg acknowledges that it’s unfortunate she has to question them so repetitively, but that’s what it takes for something to obtain statistical significance and achieve scientific validity – something that higher-ups might actually listen to. Lastly, to say that she is inconsiderate and self-centered only seems at all reasonable if you have actually met her and know her well. Maybe you do, but that strikes me as unlikely. A life in academia doing research is not a mercenary thing to choose, especially as a woman… it’s a risk, actually – a risk that you will never obtain a permanent position, a risk that you will go for periods of time without a funding source, etc. Going into academia is a sacrifice for what one sees as the higher cause of knowledge that can have a positive impact on the world. It’s generally not something that the most selfish people on the planet do (if you want to find those people, I would suggest trying politicians and businessmen…). Just my two cents.Uhhhh, goodie, goodie, a good argument!For one thing, the ‘divine superiority’ you speak of comes from the Bible and no high degree of intelligence will convince a religious person that humans are not superior to animals. Just look at the deeply religious Amish and their terrible puppy mills! Nobody would argue nowadays that dogs are highly intelligent animals but still the Amish abuse them terribly. Why? Because the Bible says they have no souls (ergo, they are inferior) and that all animals were put on the Earth to serve us and for no other reason. Every single advance we have made (I am an animal rights activist) in the treatment of animals, science has had no part, it has always been animal lovers that have worked for it. And bird lovers don’t care if their parrot is a genius which can talk, count, understand the concept of zero, distinguish textures and colors, etc or just a regular lovable doofus that poops all over the place and chews our furniture. It’s only parrot enjoyers that want the status or prestige that comes from owning an exotic and smart animal. As to what kind of life Dr. P’s birds have, maybe you should have done a bit of research on the subject because, if you had, you would have found out that they live in a lab which doesn’t even have a single window, they are not allowed to interact among themselves and all they ever do is work, work, work. They don’t get ‘attention’ like pet parrots do. They don’t even get to bond to a human because they need to rotate the people constantly otherwise it could be said that the parrot did not think of the answer himself, that he was following cues from the handler. Everything they get, they need to ask specifically for it: food, rest, treats, etc. Nothing is ever given to them out of love or because it’s their right. It’s not ‘attention’, it’s experimentation. BIG DIFFERENCE. Alex plucked and had chronic aspergillosis which, as anybody who knows anything about parrot would know, it’s caused by chronic stress. Dr. P traveled for weeks at a time throughout all the years the Alex study was going on doing fundraising. You do know what Alex’s name stood for, don’t you? Avian Learning EXperiment- and you do know that she said on an interview that she considered him just a subject of her study, don’t you? It was only after he died and the donations stopped that she put out a book saying she missed him and making it seem as if she loved him.As to my comment that she was an inconsiderate, self-centered and mercenary person, yes, I met her in person. I admire scientists that do research but I do not condone or accept abusing animals to prove a point. I love birds. Always had and always will and will never accept keeping an animal under lifelong cruelty for the sake of science.

Pajarita wrote:For one thing, the ‘divine superiority’ you speak of comes from the Bible and no high degree of intelligence will convince a religious person that humans are not superior to animals. Just look at the deeply religious Amish and their terrible puppy mills! Nobody would argue nowadays that dogs are highly intelligent animals but still the Amish abuse them terribly. Why? Because the Bible says they have no souls (ergo, they are inferior) and that all animals were put on the Earth to serve us and for no other reason.People’s religious beliefs are often very, very worth challenging (in the gentlest ways possible if we ever hope for them to listen). The Bible says all kinds of atrocious things that most modern Christians no longer hold to – and this is because of advancements in philosophy and science. When the dissonance between what people feel they should believe because of their religion and what they feel is most reasonable becomes large enough, and when they aren’t going to feel like a loser for conceding to reason, then people are inclined to choose what is reasonable. People are often held back by unreasonable dogmas, but they are not imprisoned there forever. We are, at the base, reasonable creatures.Pajarita wrote:Every single advance we have made (I am an animal rights activist) in the treatment of animals, science has had no part, it has always been animal lovers that have worked for it.I disagree with this. Although successes may be more visibly due to the efforts and donations of activists than due to actually convincing politicians and other powerful people of why animals deserve respect – what brought many animal activists to the table in the first place? ‘Love,’ in many cases – and why do we love animals? We love animals because we are able to understand them in some way, and we have a realization that we have things in common with them. Do you have moral issues with killing cockroaches or ants? Probably not… And this is because of basic beliefs you have regarding who deserves ethical consideration, and who doesn’t – and these beliefs you probably formed in some reasonable way, relating to which beings you have things in common with. I’ve always had pets and been an animal lover, but I had never been involved with animal rights at all until I thought in more scientific and philosophical ways about why animals matter and how many animals are not so different from myself. I am interested in protecting those animals who I feel some degree of empathy toward, which does not include cockroaches and ants and the like. If we hope to increase the number of people who care about animals, there needs to be a way to show them observations we have already made about what we share with other beings. The ‘hula-hoop’ of rights in America has been extended to blacks, then women, then children, and now it is slowly extending to some animals, too. This extension is catalyzed by science and other tools that make people realize what we all have in common. If we didn’t have these tools in place, there might not be half as many animal rights activists as there are.Also, we need to remember those who fight for animal rights by way of fighting against further habitat loss and environmental destruction – these people aim to conserve the habitats of wild parrots and all other sorts of creatures. These people have created excellent progress in the realm of protecting animals’ homes because they have arguments for why we need to do this that that pertain to both the well-being of animals and of people. Meanwhile, they are motivated by science and by the concrete evidence of how Earth’s climate is changing, and people listen.Pajarita wrote:As to what kind of life Dr. P’s birds have, maybe you should have done a bit of research on the subject because, if you had, you would have found out that they live in a lab which doesn’t even have a single window, they are not allowed to interact among themselves and all they ever do is work, work, work. They don’t get ‘attention’ like pet parrots do. They don’t even get to bond to a human because they need to rotate the people constantly otherwise it could be said that the parrot did not think of the answer himself, that he was following cues from the handler. Everything they get, they need to ask specifically for it: food, rest, treats, etc. Nothing is ever given to them out of love or because it’s their right. It’s not ‘attention’, it’s experimentation. BIG DIFFERENCE. Alex plucked and had chronic aspergillosis which, as anybody who knows anything about parrot would know, it’s caused by chronic stress. Dr. P traveled for weeks at a time throughout all the years the Alex study was going on doing fundraising. You do know what Alex’s name stood for, don’t you? Avian Learning EXperiment- and you do know that she said on an interview that she considered him just a subject of her study, don’t you? It was only after he died and the donations stopped that she put out a book saying she missed him and making it seem as if she loved him.Thanks for helping me understand that those parrots really did struggle quite a bit. Most of what I’ve seen has been on the pro-Pepperberg side. I’m not yet convinced that these birds had miserable lives, though – happiness and stress are weird things. I have chronic stress, and sometimes I consider my life to be miserable… but then good moments happen and I consider my life to be great. How does one determine if a life was overall worth living or not – by the average of how happy one felt at each moment? By one’s ability to live out its life with freedom to act in natural ways? By the height of the peaks of happiness, or the lowest depths of the misery? There are parrots that have it much worse than hers, and I think her parrots’ lives may have been overall worth living.Pajarita wrote:As to my comment that she was an inconsiderate, self-centered and mercenary person, yes, I met her in person. I admire scientists that do research but I do not condone or accept abusing animals to prove a point. I love birds. Always had and always will and will never accept keeping an animal under lifelong cruelty for the sake of science.I addressed that original comment by you because I detected a hint of presumed moral superiority, which always bothers me. Dr. P just has a different idea about what’s right than you do. You seem to have more of a rights standpoint in believing that some hardship for an individual is never justified, even if it might vastly benefit the welfare of many other beings. On the other hand, Dr. P is probably more of a utilitarian, realizing that her birds are struggling but thinking that this will be justified by increasing the overall welfare of many beings. Nobody is right, and nobody is wrong – and unless you can find a way to quantify welfare, and unless you have some kind of god appear and tell you which is more important – individual rights for all, or some harm for a few that increases the welfare of many – then there will continue to be no right answer.One last thing, something in what you said seemed to be implying I know nothing about parrots – that about plucking and aspergilliosis being due to chronic stress. If that is indeed what you’re implying, then I absolutely resent that. I’ve been making a full-fledged effort to learn everything I need to know about parrots ever since I became interested in adopting one. Most of us haven’t had the privilege of being able to devote much of our lives to parrots while still being able to keep a roof over our heads, so of course you know more about parrots than most others. There is no point in being condescending with people who are making their best efforts. There is a point in offering constructive, educational advice, which you also do and which I appreciate very much.

caprifolia wrote:People’s religious beliefs are often very, very worth challenging (in the gentlest ways possible if we ever hope for them to listen). The Bible says all kinds of atrocious things that most modern Christians no longer hold to – and this is because of advancements in philosophy and science. When the dissonance between what people feel they should believe because of their religion and what they feel is most reasonable becomes large enough, and when they aren’t going to feel like a loser for conceding to reason, then people are inclined to choose what is reasonable. People are often held back by unreasonable dogmas, but they are not imprisoned there forever. We are, at the base, reasonable creatures…Faith is believing in something that cannot be supported by reason. When it comes to religious faith, there is no dissonance, no measurable chasm between what people believe and what they feel is reasonable. If there is, we are talking about agnosticism and not religious faith.caprifolia wrote: I disagree with this. Although successes may be more visibly due to the efforts and donations of activists than due to actually convincing politicians and other powerful people of why animals deserve respect – what brought many animal activists to the table in the first place? ‘Love,’ in many cases – and why do we love animals? We love animals because we are able to understand them in some way, and we have a realization that we have things in common with them. Do you have moral issues with killing cockroaches or ants? Probably not… And this is because of basic beliefs you have regarding who deserves ethical consideration, and who doesn’t – and these beliefs you probably formed in some reasonable way, relating to which beings you have things in common with. I’ve always had pets and been an animal lover, but I had never been involved with animal rights at all until I thought in more scientific and philosophical ways about why animals matter and how many animals are not so different from myself. I am interested in protecting those animals who I feel some degree of empathy toward, which does not include cockroaches and ants and the like. If we hope to increase the number of people who care about animals, there needs to be a way to show them observations we have already made about what we share with other beings. The ‘hula-hoop’ of rights in America has been extended to blacks, then women, then children, and now it is slowly extending to some animals, too. This extension is catalyzed by science and other tools that make people realize what we all have in common. If we didn’t have these tools in place, there might not be half as many animal rights activists as there are.Also, we need to remember those who fight for animal rights by way of fighting against further habitat loss and environmental destruction – these people aim to conserve the habitats of wild parrots and all other sorts of creatures. These people have created excellent progress in the realm of protecting animals’ homes because they have arguments for why we need to do this that that pertain to both the well-being of animals and of people. Meanwhile, they are motivated by science and by the concrete evidence of how Earth’s climate is changing, and people listen…LOL - People only started listening to global warming when it started affecting their lives and not because of what scientists have been saying for years.I also don’t agree that people become animal lovers through any type of conscientization process (understanding or finding similarities). It’s empathy, not reasoning, and they are born that way. Ask any animal lover and they will tell you… at least, all of the animal lovers I know agree on this (I rescued my first animal when I was 8 years old and I did not do it because I understood the cat or found similarities, I did it because I felt for her the same that I would feel for a human being.And yes, I do have a moral issue killing ants, flies, spiders, worms, etc. I would kill cockroaches if I had an infestation and could not control it any other way because it could endanger my other animals but, thankfully, I don’t have to make that terrible decision (I happen to admire cockroaches greatly) because I don’t have any. caprifolia wrote: Thanks for helping me understand that those parrots really did struggle quite a bit. Most of what I’ve seen has been on the pro-Pepperberg side. I’m not yet convinced that these birds had miserable lives, though – happiness and stress are weird things. I have chronic stress, and sometimes I consider my life to be miserable… but then good moments happen and I consider my life to be great. How does one determine if a life was overall worth living or not – by the average of how happy one felt at each moment? By one’s ability to live out its life with freedom to act in natural ways? By the height of the peaks of happiness, or the lowest depths of the misery? There are parrots that have it much worse than hers, and I think her parrots’ lives may have been overall worth living…If you are not convinced that a parrot that lives in a cage in a lab, never seeing natural light, never feeling the sunshine on his shoulders, never getting a cuddle or a kiss just because, never been able to bond with another being, never getting food or rest or a toy unless he worked for it had a miserable life, you have not done enough research about parrots. It doesn’t even have anything to do with loving them or not. It’s a proven fact that wild animals that live completely unnatural lives are not happy. Animals don’t measure happiness or stress, they don’t wonder whether they are happy or not or whether their life is worth living, only humans do that. Animals are physical beings and, if they get the kind of life they evolved to have, they are happy, if they don’t, they are not happy. They have emotions but theirs are almost physical in nature because they came to be in order for the species to survive so a highly social animal that evolved to have his large extended family around him all his life is not going to be happy living isolated. Period. It might be complicated for us but it’s very simple for them. caprifolia wrote: I addressed that original comment by you because I detected a hint of presumed moral superiority, which always bothers me. Dr. P just has a different idea about what’s right than you do. You seem to have more of a rights standpoint in believing that some hardship for an individual is never justified, even if it might vastly benefit the welfare of many other beings. On the other hand, Dr. P is probably more of a utilitarian, realizing that her birds are struggling but thinking that this will be justified by increasing the overall welfare of many beings. Nobody is right, and nobody is wrong – and unless you can find a way to quantify welfare, and unless you have some kind of god appear and tell you which is more important – individual rights for all, or some harm for a few that increases the welfare of many – then there will continue to be no right answer…Of course Dr. P has a completely different idea of what is right and what is wrong than I do! But just because somebody has a different moral compass doesn’t automatically make both sides right. People often say things like: “Everybody is entitled to an opinion” and just leave it at that as if this fact justified this person’s actions but, if that was strictly true, Hitler was entitled to his opinion so why do we think he was a monster? People who train dogs to fight have an opinion about it, too. They think it’s OK to do it because it gives them pleasure to see two animals tearing each other apart. But it doesn’t make it morally right, does it? So, yes, there is a right and there is a wrong when it comes to abusing animals and the fact that the abuser is a doctor doesn’t make it any less repugnant to animal lovers. And animal welfare is quantified. It’s what the cruelty laws cover… they are woefully inadequate and obsolete but they have been catching up and I hope one day they will reach the AR goals.But I don’t think that ‘hardship for one individual to benefit the many’ has bearing here. For one thing, neither pet nor wild parrots have benefited from Dr. P’s research. If anything, there has been a surge of CAGs sales which will inevitably end in more birds in rescue as the expectations created by her finds will not gel for the greatest majority of people buying parrots thinking they will get an Alex. And, for another, the individual needs to have a choice for this statement to be valid which her birds didn’t. One is altruism while the other is exploitation. caprifolia wrote: One last thing, something in what you said seemed to be implying I know nothing about parrots – that about plucking and aspergilliosis being due to chronic stress. If that is indeed what you’re implying, then I absolutely resent that. I’ve been making a full-fledged effort to learn everything I need to know about parrots ever since I became interested in adopting one. Most of us haven’t had the privilege of being able to devote much of our lives to parrots while still being able to keep a roof over our heads, so of course you know more about parrots than most others. There is no point in being condescending with people who are making their best efforts. There is a point in offering constructive, educational advice, which you also do and which I appreciate very much.I am sorry you resented my assumption but it was based on your comments because if you knew that aspergillosis is due to chronic stress and you knew that Alex suffered from it, why would you defend Dr. P and think that he had a good life? If he had, he wouldn’t have suffered from it. And to make matters worse, when she found out he had it and what caused it, she still continued stressing him out to the point that he died from it!