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PostLegendary Signing Gorilla Koko Dead at 46 (Edward Jajko, USA, 06/23/18 4:04 am)
Koko, the beloved gorilla who knew sign language, dies at age 46
Koko, the beloved gorilla who shocked the world with her mastery of sign language and ability to communicate with humans, died in her sleep at the age of 46, officials announced Thursday. The western lowland gorilla, born on July 4, 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo, spent the bulk of her extraordinary life at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside. Her full name, Hanabi-ko, is Japanese for "Fireworks Child." When Koko was just a year old, her doctor, Francine "Penny" Patterson, decided to teach her a few basic signs including, food, drink and more. Patterson would speak the words as she signed them, according to the Gorilla Foundation.
JE comments: A very sad loss, although Koko outlived the typical gorilla lifespan of 35-40 years. Koko knew some 1000 signs, according to sources, a vocabulary level equivalent to that of a 3-year-old child. Like so many in WAISworld, she was also a great fan of cats and always had them as companions.
In Praise of Koko and Gorillas
(Istvan Simon, USA
06/24/18 10:43 AM)
Thanks to Ed Jajko (23 June) for calling Koko's death to our attention.
I was a great fan of Koko, though only knew of her through television programs. Koko indirectly called our attention to the terrible plight of gorillas in the wild, who are shamefully being slaughtered in Africa. Gorillas are our cousins, and extraordinarily gentle animals. They should be protected. Aside from Koko who no human with a heart could fail to love, I remember a film that was taken when a small child fell into a gorilla enclosure at a zoo, and lied injured on the concrete floor. The horrified people in the zoo gasped as a gorilla approached the injured child. What this gorilla did next is one of the most touching things I have ever have seen. An animal of great strength, people were afraid the gorilla might kill or further injure the unconscious child. But instead the gorilla sat next to the child, and gently stroked his face with his fingers, comforting the child, until paramedics arrived, when the gorilla discreetly moved away.
Koko rest in peace. I hope humans will become wiser and pass worldwide legislation protecting these wonderful animals from harm.
JE comments: Absolutely.
Koko at Stanford
(Henry Levin, USA
06/25/18 4:34 AM)
As you may know, Koko spent most of her life in Woodside on Stanford land and was closely associated with Stanford. This meant we heard quite frequently about her exploits. The Wikipedia entry has a charming description of Koko's intelligence and behavior.
JE comments: Hank, did you ever meet Koko? Eugenio Battaglia forwarded this touching video of Koko's 2001 encounter with late actor Robin Williams. The YouTube comments say that when K learned of Williams's death, she became very sad.
Now, alas, the two friends are reunited.
- Koko at Stanford (Henry Levin, USA 06/25/18 4:34 AM)