I remember Koko very well. The adorable gorilla was a big part of my childhood growing up. I was friends with the son of one of the scientists who worked with her, and thanks to that friendship, I knew about Koko long before she became world famous.
Koko has passed away, and her legacy will long be remembered.
Rest in Peace, Koko.
The popular gorilla, known for her extraordinary mastery of sign language, passed away at the age of 46. She died in her sleep yesterday morning, Fox News reports.
The Gorilla Foundation announced her passing today and said: ‘Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy.
‘She was beloved and will be deeply missed.’ Koko was born on July 4, 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo and was named Hanabi-ko (Japanese for ‘Fireworks Child’). She quickly became famous after was taught sign language by Dr. Francine ‘Penny’ Patterosn.
In 1974, Dr Patterson and Dr Ronald Cohn moved Koko and the project to Stanford and went on to establish The Gorilla Foundation. While at Stanford the project expanded to include a second western lowland gorilla, Michael. In 1979, Koko and The Gorilla Foundation moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains where Ndume joined them as a fellow ambassador for their species.
She was said to be able to communicate with humans with 1,000 words of sign language and was able to understand 2,000 words of spoken English.
Koko appeared in several documentaries and twice in National Geographic in 1978 and 1985. The gorilla’s 1978 cover featured a photo that the animal had taken of itself in a mirror.
The foundation said it will honor Koko’s legacy with a sign language application featuring Koko for the benefit of gorillas and children, as well as other projects.
When “Good Will Hunting” actor Williams committed suicide in 2014, Koko was said to have been particularly upset.
The pair bonded in 2001 when Williams visited the foundation, and Koko insisted he tickle her and also wanted to try on his glasses.
Staff at the Gorilla Foundation explained to Koko that a friend of the center had died, which resulted in Koko hunching over in sadness and her lip quivering.
“Robin’s ability to just ‘hang out’ with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable,” Patterson wrote at the time.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
June 21st, 2018