cover image Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot

Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot

Betty Jean Craige, Sherman Asher (SCB, dist.), $19.95 (144p) ISBN 9781890932374

Fascinated with language acquisition in animals, University of Georgia humanities professor and animal lover Craige decided to add an African Grey to her household. In this charming memoir, she captures her experience with Cosmo the parrot, revealing not just the bird's capacity for language, but also for affection, opinion, sociability, and reasoning. Cosmo's conversation—she utters some 250 words and phrases—is engaging and surprising, evidencing a sly, exuberant personality with definite likes and dislikes. Craige makes larger points about the fallacy of human exceptionalism and the importance of "animal ambassadors" like Cosmo while providing intimate description of daily life with this intelligent bird and her four dogs (Alaskan Eskimos). Craige illustrates Cosmo's charms (and deceptions) with great humor and affection, but is entirely explicit regarding the extensive hands-on care these animals require (Cosmo has five different cages), as well as the characteristics of Greys raised in the wild and captivity. This thoughtful book should please and inspire animal-lovers, and give would-be parrot-owners an idea of the challenges and rewards. B&w photos. (May)