Dr. Auguste von Bayern: “At Loro Parque, the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology has got a research station in cooperation with Loro Parque Fundación. We research concerning the intelligence of parrots and make small tests in front of the visitors. They can observe our experiment live. We research how parrots can think, how they spontaneously solve new problems by thinking and if they can empathize with other members of their species and if they think about what other individuals want, know or see. Especially for cognitive research and behavioral research zoos enable fantastic opportunities to study what you can never observe in the wild with wild animals. But also for much other research areas zoos enable a massive amount of opportunities, so the animals aren’t only in human care to benefit education, but also benefit research, which is great, because zoos can take over several functions. We are still at the beginning of cognition / intelligence research with parrots Since 15 years we know that corvids, another bird family, have got amazing thinking skills and often show skills same as great apes do. This was a surprising result in science. Parrots are distantly related family of birds but have brains of similar size and similar neurons densities and that’s why they are very interesting to compare them to corvids and great apes on a scientific base. We aim to research if intelligence developed multiple independent of each other during the process of evolution in distantly related species. We aim to understand the evolution of intelligence and why we as humans became so special and why a relatively short time ago our brain or respectively our neocortex enlarged enormously, why we got skills no other animals have to such an extent. Intelligence certainly does not exist only once. It’s not surprising, that our closest relatives are intelligent, too – of course, they are not as intelligent as we are, but come close and have more intelligence as some people thought. For 30 years researchers compare systematically between different species of great apes and the developmental psychology of children. Then intelligence research evolved and started to study corvids and dolphins because we knew they are intelligent. These animals sting out, because of the relation between the size of their brain to their body. There are also more groups, which sting out, and parrots are one of them and that’s why they are so interesting to study them in comparison to primates, dolphins, and corvids. If you can show the independent development of intelligence in different species of animals, you can find out more about the factors, which enable the evolution of intelligence. Were there different environmental factors, the variability, the unpredictability of the environment, or complex social life. There are different hypotheses about the development of intelligence, the human intelligence, and if you understand the development of intelligence in animal better, you will also get to know more about the intelligence of humans – our own past. We aim to research the thinking abilities of parrots, for example, how innovative and creative they are in order to solve a new complex problem, that’s why the animals we work with have to be relaxed and satisfied because they wouldn’t be able to solve problems. So it’s in our own interest, that these animals aren’t stressed during a test. That’s why it’s very important for us, that the animals are doing well, have a good social environment and are all in all satisfied – this is a prerequisite of our work. Our tests base on the spontaneous participation of the animals. So we are not interested in training of the parrots because you can train animals to perform most complex behaviors, but this has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. Intelligence means being able to solve new problems spontaneously. That’s why our animals have to be satisfied concerning food. When we offer them food, then it’s special reinforcing favorite food, but they will always get their basic food before they are tested, otherwise they weren’t able to concentrate and solve the tasks innovatively. If you liked our video, make sure you give us a thumb up and if you’ve got more questions let us know in the comments below. In order to never miss a video subscribe our channel.