Anyone not familiar with Koko, she’s an incredibly beautiful and intelligent 44 year old western lowland gorilla.
Koko was born in 1971 on the 4th of July at the San Francisco Zoo and is cared by Dr.’s Penny Patterson and Ron Cohn, as well as their team, at The Gorilla Foundation.
In 1999, PBS Nature did an eye-opening and educational documentary on Koko, the first and (now) only gorilla who can communicate with modified American Sign Language, called Gorilla Sign Language (GSL). Today, Koko knows how to communicate with more than 1,000 signs and can understand more than 2,000 spoken English words. Although the focus of the documentary is largely on Koko, you also become well acquainted with her childhood friend, Michael, and her intended mate, Ndume.
When watching the documentary, I felt emotions ranging from curiosity and happiness to laughter and sadness.
Photograph: © The Gorilla Foundation