Gorilla who communicated with humans dies at 46

‘Koko touched lives of millions as an icon for interspecies communication and empathy’, Gorilla Foundation says

Gorilla who communicated with humans dies at 46

World Bulletin / News Desk

Koko, the gorilla who could communicate with humans by learning sign language, died in her sleep at the age of 46, the Gorilla Foundation announced Thursday.

"Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy," the foundation said in a statement. "She was beloved and will be deeply missed."

The western lowland gorilla was born July 4, 1971, at the San Francisco Zoo and was taught sign language starting at the age of 1 by Dr. Francine "Penny" Patterson, the animal psychologist at the the Gorilla Foundation.

Koko learned more than 1,100 signs and 2,000-plus words in English in three years as part of a project at Stanford University on interspecies communications.

After she began communicating with humans through sign language, Koko made numerous headlines. She was often visited by celebrities and was featured by National Geographic. And the movie, Koko: A Talking Gorilla, was screened at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival.

But what really helped Koko became world-famous was her close friendship with a kitten and her ability to take her own photograph.

In 1983, she adopted a kitten, a gray male Manx named All Ball. When the cat was hit by a car and killed in 1985, Koko grieved and cried for months and once signed "sad bad trouble" when asked about the kitty.

Koko is also known for a having close friendship with Robin Williams. When Williams visited Koko in 2001, she spoke with the comedian, tried on his glasses and made him burst into laughter by raising his shirt and tickling him.

Years later, in 2014 when Koko was informed about Williams' death, she mourned his passing.

She died at the Gorilla Foundation in California. The foundation said: "Her impact has been profound and what she has taught us about the emotional capacity of gorillas and their cognitive abilities will continue to shape the world.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Haziran 2018, 11:28
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