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Koko, The Gorilla Who Mastered Sign Language and Showed Remarkable Empathy, Dies at 46

posted: 06/21/18
by: TLCme

?Sad news as we learn that Koko the gorilla has passed. The following is The Gorilla Foundation's press release. #ripkoko .?The Gorilla Foundation is sad to announce the passing of our beloved Koko. Koko -- the gorilla known for her extraordinary mastery of sign language, and as the primary ambassador for her endangered species -- passed away yesterday morning in her sleep at the age of 46. . 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, a western lowland gorilla, was born Hanabi-ko (Japanese for "Fireworks Child") on July 4, 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo. Dr. Francine "Penny" Patterson began working with Koko the next year, famously teaching her sign language. Dr. Patterson and Dr. Ronald Cohn moved Koko and the project to Stanford in 1974 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. . Koko's capacity for language and empathy has opened the minds and hearts of millions. She has been featured in multiple documentaries and appeared on the cover of National Geographic twice. The first cover, in October of 1978, featured a photograph Koko had taken of herself in a mirror. The second issue, in January of 1985, included the story of Koko and her kitten, All Ball. Following the article, the book Koko's Kitten was published and continues to be used in elementary schools worldwide. 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. . The foundation will continue to honor Koko's legacy and advance our mission with ongoing projects including conservation efforts in Africa, the great ape sanctuary on Maui, and a sign language application featuring Koko for the benefit of both gorillas and children.

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Koko, the gorilla who re-dfined the lines of human communication has passed away at the age of 46, as reported by The Gorilla Foundation. Koko served an an ambassador for her species, raising awareness and making people realize the special connection humans and animals have, as she touched the lives of millions.

Koko, a western lowland gorilla, was originally born as Hanabiko (which is Japenese for "Fireworks Child") on the 4th of July 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo. Her lifelong care-taker, teacher and friend was Dr. Francine "Penny" Patterson and she taught her sign language, eventually startingThe Gorilla Foundation. One of the largest lessons Koko taught the world was her capacity for language and empathy. NPR reports that in 2001 Koko made fast friends with the likes of Robin Williams, as she tried on his glasses, showing him around and getting him to tickle her. Years later Koko seemed to recall seeing Willaims in a movie and in 2014 she mourned the loss of Williams.

Williams described the experience as "awesome and unforgettable." Throughout her life Koko revealed a range of emotions, such as sharing glee and sadness with with researchers. In the video with Williams you can even see the two sharing laughter. When Koko's kitten Ball passed away, you could see the grief and tears in her eyes.

#flashbackfriday All species are capable of love!

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Koko's life has taught us that animals and humans can share empathy and if taught perhaps animals can communicate their thoughts and feelings.

The Gorilla Foundation will honor her legacy by working on wildlife conservation efforts.

The Gorilla Foundation says those who want to share condolences can do so by e mailing kokolove@koko.org.