For the uninitiated, Koko the Gorilla (or Hanabiko “Koko”) is a 44-year old western lowland gorilla of the female gender, who currently resides at the San Francisco Zoo. And, she is probably the smartest gorilla alive on our planet with her apparent ability to comprehend more than 1000 signs of the ‘Gorilla Sign Language’ (a modified version of American Sign Language or ASL). Well this time around, beyond intelligence, it was the heartfelt connection made between two creatures that really enticed the experts. In that regard, as the video (below the jump) showcases, Koko made really good friends with a bunch of kittens. These kittens, being gifted to the gorilla on her 44th birthday (4th July), further reciprocated the cordial connection in their own whimsical ways.
According to various reports, Koko can supposedly understand more than 2,000 words from the spoken English language, in addition to numerous signs. The latter point is aptly made when Koko ‘politely’ asks one of the handlers to place a kitten on her head for some playful posture. And, when it comes to the enhanced smartness (along with mature emotional abilities) of the gorilla, most of the credit should go to Francine “Penny” Patterson. Patterson has been Koko’s trainer since the affable gorilla was loaned to her for a doctoral research on the linguistic capabilities of lowland gorillas.
Suffice it to say, their lifelong friendship has earned its deserved recognition from numerous media outlets, including magazine covers, documentaries, movies and even novels. And since we are nearing the realm of celebrities, beyond lovable kittens, Koko also made friends with the comedian-actor-extraordinaire Robin Williams – as showcased in the video below.
For more info about ape-family conservation and wellness, please do visit Koko’s very own website.