Aimee Morgana
N'Kisi with his teacher Aimee Author: Suzanne Restle
2022

Aimee Morgana

Animal Behaviorist

Healing Human kinship with animals

meet aimee

Aimee Morgana is an interspecies communication researcher, avian behavior expert, artist and teacher who began working with parrots in 1985. She works with an African gray parrot named N’Kisi, a friend and partner who she has taught to communicate using human words. Aimee serves on the college faculty of the School of Visual Arts and is an elected fellow of Wings Worldquest Explorers. Her work with N’Kisi has been published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration and the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships.

Healing Human kinship with animals
Nominated by: Milbry Polk MED'95
Class of 2022 Location USA
Aimee and N'Kisi reading
Aimee and N'Kisi reading Author: Suzanne Restle

What do animals feel and think? When I was a child, I wished I could talk with animals. Black Beauty, a fictional autobiography of a horse, was my favorite book. I yearned to know how animals see the world. I thought this was only a fantasy until my dream came true working with my collaborator, N’Kisi, the African gray parrot, N’Kisi is one of a few special animals who has learned to communicate using human language, like Koko the gorilla, Kanzi the bonobo, and Alex the parrot. N’Kisi’s words give us a new window into an animal mind and heart.

My work explores not outer space, but inner space: the uncharted territory of animal minds. Imagine if you encountered an extraterrestrial alien. How would you communicate? Communication with another species poses similar challenges. With N’Kisi as a fellow explorer, I am learning to understand the parrot mind—and he, the human mind. I have taught N’Kisi the way you would teach a child, so he could learn what words meant. He was as eager to learn as I was to teach. N’Kisi wants to communicate. I believe he is motivated by our deep connection. Parrots can become intensely bonded with their chosen person. I love what he calls me, which is “Big Friend.”

“Interspecies communication is a new frontier, advancing human knowledge about other amazing beings who share our world.”

- Aimee Morgana
Aimee and N'Kisi reading
Aimee and N'Kisi reading Author: Suzanne Restle

Exploration of the animal mind is just beginning. Interspecies communication is a new frontier, advancing human knowledge about other amazing beings who share our world. I hope this project will also advance humanity’s understanding of animal intelligence and illuminate our special bonds with pets and other animals. This could help to heal our human connection with nature and remind us of the kinship among all life in Earth’s unique, diverse and magnificent community.

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