Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 40th Birthday, KOKO

Koko, the Western Lowland Gorilla adopted by the San Diego Zoo decades ago, was born July 4th, 1971. Her name means "fireworks child."

Koko is an ordinary gorilla that was raised and lives in remarkable circumstances. Her abilities are not remarkable, but the circumstances that gave her the gift to be taught human communication are. And for that, she is a remarkable, unique, wonderful and amazing animal.

To manipulate a quote from Star Trek "Of all the gorillas we have known...Koko is the most...human."

To date, she has mastered over 1,000 English words using sign language and over 2,000 words of spoken English.

She is able to talk and communicate her feelings and thoughts. It is well known that Koko loves kittens and over the years many kittens have been introduced for her to live with and take care of.

For a long time Koko had a "mate" named Michael. Koko was supposed to have a baby with Michael but instead told their keeper, Penny Patterson, that she considered Michael like a brother and could not mate with him and have a much desired baby.

Koko has always wanted to me a mother.

Michael died in 2000 but before that he had told Penny that he remembered being captured as a baby and how he was forced to see his parents being slaughtered in a bush raid. He said they were shot.

Michael was in command of just 600 words compared to Koko's 3,000 and managed to tell a remarkable story.

We can learn so much from the animals that we can communicate people.

Visit Koko at her website:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday KOKO!!! We love you sooooooo much.