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Inspired by seeing Alex on television, in 1997 Aimée Morgana began training a young male African Grey parrot, N’kisi (pronounced “in-key-see”) in the use of language. She did so by teaching him as if he were a human child, starting when he was 5 months old. She used two teaching techniques known as “sentence frames” and “cognitive mapping”. In sentence frames, words were taught by repeating them in various sentences such as, “Want some water? Look, I have some water.” Cognitive mapping reinforced meanings that might not yet be fully understood. For example, if N’kisi said “water”, Aimee would show him a glass of water. By the time he was 5 years old, he had a contextual vocabulary of more than 700 words. He apparently understood the meanings of words, and used his language skills to make relevant comments. He ordinarily spoke in grammatical sentences, and by January 2002, Aimée had recorded more than 7,000 original sentences.
Although Aimée’s primary interest was in N’kisi’s use of language, she soon noticed that he said things that seemed to refer to her own thoughts and intentions. He did the same with her husband, Hana. After reading about Rupert Sheldrake’s research on telepathy in animals (Sheldrake, 1999), in January 2000 Aimee contacted Sheldrake and summarized some of her observations. At the same time, she began keeping a detailed log of seemingly telepathic incidents, and has continued to do so. By January 2002, she had recorded 630 such incidents. Here are a few examples:
“I was thinking of calling Rob, and picked up the phone to do so, and N’kisi said, ‘Hi, Rob,’ as I had the phone in my hand and was moving toward the Rolodex to look up his number.”
“We were watching the end credits of a Jackie Chan movie, edited to a musical soundtrack. There was an image of [Chan] lying on his back on a girder way up on a tall skyscraper. It was scary due to the height, and N’kisi said, ‘Don’t fall down.’ Then the movie cut to a commercial with a musical soundtrack, and as an image of a car appeared, N’kisi said, “There’s my car.” (N’kisi’s cage was at the other end of the room, and behind the TV. He could not see the screen and there were no sources of reflection.)