Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Name Game


I often get asked many questions about my name, "Einstein". Let me answer them for you!

1st Question: If they think I'm a girl, why am I named Einstein? 
I was only 2 months old when Marcia and Jeff named me. African Grey Parrots are monomorphic. That means both males and females look exactly alike. They didn't know if I was a girl or boy and it didn't matter to them because they liked the name Einstein. When I was 3 months old, they took me to an Avian Veterinarian who looked me over and through vent palpation determined I was a Girl! He was about 90% sure, but asked if we wanted a sex analysis through DNA testing. Since I was not going into a breeding program and was going to be a pet, Marcia and Jeff thought it wasn't necessary.
UPDATE: In January of 2015, at the age of 17 1/2 years I was DNA sexed as a male! Read about the discovery here!

2nd Question: Why "Einstein"?
Einstein the human was a very smart man and African Grey Parrots are known to be very smart, so the name just seemed to "fit". Marcia and Jeff actually thought they were being original! You see, back in 1997 not everyone had a home computer, the Internet was not as fast as it is today. All you had were dial up connections that were as slow as Christmas! It wasn't until a few years later that they discovered many more parrots with the same name!!!!

3rd Question: Are you the parrot from Animal Planet's TV Show, "Pet Stars"?
No. That Parrot is also named Einstein and lives at the Zoo in Knoxville, Tennessee. (This Einstein has been DNA confirmed female.) Einstein was hatched in California in 1987 and lived with a couple until donated to the Zoo in 1992 at age 5. Einstein is a very talented parrot and knows many words on cue! In 2006 she was featured at a TED Conference. In 2007 she performed on the TV show, Animal Planet Pet Stars. More recently, on June 23, 2015 she made an appearance on America's Got Talent TV show. She is now a popular “spokesbird” for the Knoxville Zoo and for Knoxville tourism. 

4th Question: There is another really smart African Grey at a University. Is his name Einstein too?

No, his name is Alex. In May of 2008, a USA Today article referred to Alex as "the Einstein of parrots", and in a PBS documentary, Alan Alda referred to Alex the same way. This has lead to some confusion. Alex was an African Grey Parrot and the subject of a study on parrot intelligence by animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Sadly, Alex passed away 9/7/2007 at the age of 30 years old. However the Pepperberg study continues: http://www.alexfoundation.org/

So, to all you other birdies out there named Einstein, Welcome to the Club!

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