A British pet parrot has forged a bond with his owner's Alexa, playing music and ordering tasty treats from the virtual assistant developed by tech giant Amazon.Rocco, a rescue African Grey, made international headlines when The Times of London reported that he's bought ice cream and strawberries from Alexa (though the device's parental lock feature prevents these items from actually showing up at the door). Owner Marion Wischnewski adopted Rocco from the animal sanctuary she volunteers with after the bird's frequent cussing scared away potential adoptive parrot parents. African Greys are known for their ability to precisely mimic sounds, natural and mechanical, often very loudly. While Rocco's now famous, YouTube offers plenty of looks into greys and their relationships with voice-activated devices. Below is a 2017 clip of Petra making fart sounds at Alexa then asking her for a peanut: While Alexa might be the perfect machine companion for birds like Rocco, (this author, a former African Grey fosterer, speaks from personal experience), the future of smart home technology almost demands that we'll see more pet-machine bonds in years to come.
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Chicago-area cats unlucky enough to see the inside of an animal shelter can rest a little easier starting next year, when Tree House Humane Society's $7 million rescue and care facility is expected to open, “catfé” and all. Chicago architects Dobbins Group designed the purr-worthy space, which in renderings boasts a full-service public vet clinic for cats and dogs, pristine adoption rooms, a pet food pantry and supply store, an education center, and a cafe where visitors can sip coffee and spend time with the animals. The new building, 7225 North Western Avenue, would have enough room to house 150 animals—about the same capacity as Tree House's current facilities in Uptown, but with more space for each animal to roam around. The new facility will also allow Tree House to move out of a converted single-family home at 1212 West Carmen Avenue, where they have cared for some 35,000 cats and other animals since 1971. An anonymous donor gifted the West Rogers Park site to Tree House, which so far has raised $5 million in private donations for the building's construction. They're still looking for another $2 million. For DNAinfo Chicago, Linze Rice found out Tree House retained several "cat-lebrities" in their design studies:
During the design process, Tree House organizers sought expert advice on everything from feline behaviorists to cat style experts. Kate Benjamin, founder of Hauspanther Design, worked with the nonprofit to help design natural living spaces, and Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist known from the Animal Planet TV series “My Cat From Hell” was consulted to help create a stimulating environment.A ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled for May.
Are you afraid of taking Rover with you on your next flight because he might have to go potty in the airport? Well, pet-packing passengers flying through San Diego’s Lindbergh Field can rest easy. The airport’s recent $1 billion “Green Build” Terminal 2 expansion includes the nation’s first and only “pet relief” comfort station. Located between gates 46 and 47, the 75-square-foot rest room is decked out with features to get your four-legged friend in the mood to go, including ersatz grass and a fire hydrant. This may be the first, but it won’t be the last. Tom Rossbach, director of aviation architecture at HNTB, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the firm is offering the amenity to its other airport clients.