Everybody knows and just adores Koko!
Koko is the kitty-loving gorilla who over the years has had her share of feline playmates and companions.
Back in 1985, Koko the “talking” gorilla whimpered pathetically with grief and “discussed” the death of her pet kitten, who was horrifically struck and killed by a car. Koko cried and cried hysterically for several days after receiving the bad news, her teachers said.
Here is the video of when received the bad news that her first pet kitten had died:
The then 13-year-old gorilla became famous worldwide after being taught American sign language by researchers at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, near Stanford University. The 12-year-old research project is the world’s longest continuing ape language study.
Koko, whose favorite picture books stories include “The Three Little Kittens” and “Puss ‘n’ Boots,” asked for a kitten for a Christmas present, researchers said, and so it all began!
“But we gave her a life-like stuffed animal and she was terribly upset,” stated Ron Cohn, who is a biologist with the foundation. Koko refused to play with it and kept signing that she was “sad.”
Fast-forward to more recent Koko kitty news …
Koko will be celebrating her 45th birthday on July 4th of this year, 2016!
In celebration of the ape’s 44th in 2015, her trainer Francine Patterson introduced Koko to a brand new litter of kittens.
During her meeting with the kittens, she made the sign for ‘cat’ followed by ‘baby’ — which told her trainers the kittens were now her adopted children. She also asked in sign language for them to place one of the kittens on her head.
Despite her huge hands being the very same size of the young cats, Koko was gentle with the tiny balls of fluff when they arrived in a cardboard box, carefully flicking one of her fingers out to stroke them.
Here is one of the more recently videos of Koko with her kittens who are now full grown cats:
Koko currently lives at The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California, which is in the Santa Cruz Mountains just about 35 miles south of San Francisco.
And now, a brand new documentary telling the extraordinary entire story of Koko, the only ‘talking’ gorilla in the world, and her lifelong relationship with Penny Patterson, will be airing on The BBC ONE Channel.
Project Koko started as a PhD project with the goal of teaching sign language to a baby gorilla, but as Koko began to communicate with Penny, a very intense bond formed between them. Penny has now been with Koko for over 40 years and claims the gorilla can reveal fresh insights into the workings of an animal’s mind.
Koko’s unique life with Penny has been filmed each and every step of the way. Over 2,000 hours of footage chart all the most dramatic moments – Penny’s battle to keep Koko from being taken back to the zoo in which she was born and Penny’s clash with academic critics who doubted her claims and the image of Koko mourning the death of her kitten. Penny believes wholeheartedly that Koko has moved beyond simple language to express complex emotions – such as a longing for a baby gorilla of her own and that the empathy she evokes in people changes their attitudes to all animals.
This new film will explore what we can really learn from this extraordinary science experiment which turned love affair. Does all of this tell us more about animals’ emotions or our own?
The documentary will air tonight, Wednesday, June 15, at 8.30pm-9.30pm on BBC ONE!
Watch a preview of the new documentary here!
Once it has aired, you will be able to catch it on The BBC website:
By Daniel Torres, The Best Cat Page