I am obsessed with Apollo, a three-year-old African gray parrot who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with his humans, Dalton Mason and Victoria Lacey, who have been homeschooling him since he was eight months old. The videos that Dalton and Tory post on social media show Apollo’s progress in learning, as he knows a range of colours, shapes, materials and more. And on top of being smart, he also talks to humans with a charming voice!
On their YouTube channel, Apollo humans explain:
We watched as we raised the African Gray Apollo, as if it were our own child. He is homeschooled at the pre-school level from his “parents”, Dalton and Tori. Apollo studies and plays alongside his flock mates Soleil and Ophelia the Cayce. Our goal is to make Apollo the smartest animal ever. Much of our inspiration comes from Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her work with Alex. We hope that by publishing our progress, others can see what parrots can do. We also want to use the online community to share and exchange ideas about animal intelligence.
This article, originally published by Fox News, provides more information:
Working with Apollo and testing his limits is no fun pastime for Mason and Lacey. It is a serious and even scientific passion.
“We use the ‘typical/competition’ training program,” Mason said.
Originally published by German ethicist Dietmar Todt, but popularized by Dr. Irene Pepperberg (a scientist known for her work in animal cognition) through her work with Alex, her African grey.
Mason also said, “Sometimes we’ll use operant conditioning, which is more common for training pets.”
Operant conditioning—which delivers a good outcome in response to a desired behavior—is often attributed to psychologist B.F. Skinner, according to SimplyPsychology.org.
Apollo can often be seen on social media receiving the reward of pistachios when he performs the task correctly.
“As a more passive training method, we talk to him as if he were a member of the family, (almost) as if he were our little son,” Mason noted.
The abilities of this species are “practically unknown,” Mason said, and said the couple treat Apollo “very much like a child” to see “how he compares cognitively.”
“These parrots are about equal in size to crows, have a similar diet and a complex social structure – so one can assume they are equally intelligent.”
Read the rest of Apollo’s profile and heralds here. And watch more videos of Apollo on his YouTube channel and Instagram.