Koko The Gorilla Has Died

Sad to report, Koko The Gorilla has died at the age of 46. Koko had a profound impact on our human world. She had an ability to communicate via sign language and showed the world just how special and intelligent animals are, especially Great Apes like herself.

She died Tuesday in her sleep at age 46, The Gorilla Foundation said in a statement. Check out the official press release below.

PS: watch some footage of Koko w/ Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's pretty unbelievable the connection they both had together. 

PRESS RELEASE for Immediate Release

The Gorilla Foundation is sad to announce the passing of our beloved KokoWoodside, CA      Koko — the gorilla known for her extraordinary mastery of sign language, and as the primary ambassador for her endangered species — passed away yesterday morning in her sleep at the age of 46. Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy. She was beloved and will be deeply missed. 

Koko, a western lowland gorilla, was born Hanabi-ko (Japanese for “Fireworks Child”) on July 4, 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo. Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson began working with Koko the next year, famously teaching her sign language. Dr. Patterson and Dr. Ronald Cohn moved Koko and the project to Stanford in 1974 and went on to establish The Gorilla Foundation. While at Stanford the project expanded to include a second western lowland gorilla, Michael. In 1979 Koko and The Gorilla Foundation moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains where Ndume joined them as a fellow ambassador for their species. Koko’s capacity for language and empathy has opened the minds and hearts of millions. She has been featured in multiple documentaries and appeared on the cover of National Geographic twice. The first cover, in October of 1978, featured a photograph Koko had taken of herself in a mirror. The second issue, in January of 1985, included the story of Koko and her kitten, All Ball. Following the article, the book Koko’s Kitten was published and continues to be used in elementary schools worldwide. 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. 

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