Koko, the world famous gorilla has passed away at 46 years old. She gained worldwide notoriety thanks to her language skill and for her love to cats.
“The Gorilla Foundation is sad to announce the passing of our beloved Koko,” the research center said in a statement. “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.”
Born on July 4, 1971, she was initially called Hanabi-ko, which is Japanese for “fireworks child.” Since she was just a baby, psychologist Francine “Penny” Patterson selected her for a language project. Thanks to it, Koko developed some incredible communicating skill.
Koko was featured in a magazine article profiling her loving relationship with a small kitten, Ball. “Famously, Koko felt quite sad in 1984 when her adopted kitten Ball was gone,” Barbara J. King wrote for NPR. “How do we know? Here is nonhuman primate grief mediated through language: In historical footage in the film, Patterson is seen asking Koko, ‘What happened to Ball?’ In reply, Koko utters these signs in sequence: cat, cry, have-sorry, Koko-love. And then, after a pause, two more signs: unattention, visit me.”
Over the years, Koko met a lot of celebrities. Among them, Robin William who shared some great moments in her company. Back then, in 2001, when the late actor met her, the adorable primate said she recognized Williams’ face from a movie.