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Cognitive and communicative capacities of Grey parrots — implications for the enrichment of many species

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Abstract:

Much of my research has been devoted to determining the cognitive and communicative abilities of Grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus), but other companion animals and those in captivity in zoos also have considerable capacities that are often under-utilised in such settings. Many such animals are left to their own devices for large parts of the day; their boredom may translate into unsuitable behaviour patterns. In order to address this problem, my colleagues and I began to devise various computer-based 'toys' that would not only provide enrichment in the sense of relieving boredom and reproducing situations somewhat like the challenges faced by animals in the wild on a daily basis, but also would help us determine the extent of these animals' cognitive capacities. Some of these systems allow remote interactions between owners and their pets and others might be adapted for animal–animal interactions. In this paper I will describe these projects, their aims, and our limited progress.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; ANIMAL-HUMAN COMMUNICATION; AVIAN INTELLIGENCE; COMPANION ANIMALS; COMPUTER-BASED ENRICHMENT; GREY PARROT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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