Pet owners have all laughed at their pets at one point or another, but who has had their pet intentionally make them laugh? Well, one Tumblr thread, along with a 30-year-long research study, shows that there is one species that may be capable of demonstrating a sense of humor.
It was the late 1970’s when Dr. Irene Pepperberg began her study of African Grey Parrots. Her goal was to see if these birds, said to be the best of all their species at mimicry, were displaying an emotional intelligence past repeating learned phrases. The birds were proven to have the ability to develop and learn to a five-year-old human’s intellectual level. Through extensive work with her test subject ‘Alex’, she found he could not only mimic words but actively participate in conversations with his handlers. Alex’s abilities even developed to a point where he could understand how to emote language, using phrases such as “I’m sorry!” and “Calm down!” In Pepperberg’s 2008 memoir “Alex & Me” she talks about how the parrot displayed a sense of humor and would play pranks.
With a learning potential of up to about 2,000 words, the African Grey is definitely a one-of-a-kind bird. Alex was not unique in his capacity for humor, in the thread below you will see multiple stories of humorous encounters people have had with these notorious pranksters. (Cover image: Tracey R)