Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, has died

Elias Hubbard
June 21, 2018

The Gorilla Foundation, which was home to Koko for decades, announced her death on Wednesday.

Koko, the female western lowland gorilla known for having learned sign language, has died at the age of 46.

Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, has died.

The foundation said Koko's capacity for language and empathy opened the minds and hearts of millions.

In 1974, Dr Patterson and Dr Ronald Cohn moved Koko and the project to Stanford and went on to establish The Gorilla Foundation.

Instructors taught her a version of American Sign Language and say she used it to convey thoughts and feelings.

It grew into a decades-long friendship that revealed a deeper side of Koko and her ability to understand, though some experts questioned Patterson's methods and Koko's abilities.

She was featured in National Geographic twice, and was the magazine's cover girl in 1978.

"Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy".

Koko was also famous for her incredible maternal instincts, and on her 44th birthday she was granted her ultimate wish when she adopted two kittens.

Koko met a slew of celebrities over the years, like Betty White, Leonardo DiCaprio and the late Robin Williams - who shared hugs and laughs with the gorilla during their 2001 encounter.

"After the first call, Koko came to Dr. Patterson with an inquiring look on her face".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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