Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Koko the gorilla dies in Woodside

Koko the gorilla dies in Woodside

Koko, the gorilla whose apparent aptitude for sign language endeared her to fans around the world, died in her sleep on Tuesday morning, according to the Gorilla Foundation, which oversaw her care. Koko would've turned 47 on July 4.

Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971. By the next year, Patterson had started teaching Koko an adapted version of American Sign Language, which she called "Gorilla Sign Language", or GSL. She'd been taught how to sign by animal psychologist Francine "Penny" Patterson when she was still young. Koko's vocabulary eventually doubled.

The Gorilla foundation plans to commemorate Koko's legacy into the future. Koko was featured in multiple documentaries and appeared on the cover of National Geographic twice.

Koko was also famous for her incredible maternal instincts, and on her 44th birthday she was granted her ultimate wish when she adopted two kittens.

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In 1998, Koko took to the Internet in what was billed as the first "interspecies" chat, relaying comments such as "I like drinks" via a human interpreter to tens of thousands of online participants. At the time, the online conversation was considered the fifth-busiest in AOL history ― trailing sessions with Rosie O'Donnell, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan and the pop group Hanson, The Associated Press reported.

When "Good Will Hunting" actor Williams committed suicide in 2014, Koko was said to have been particularly upset. Cohn said Koko was grief-stricken by the kitten's death.

"She became extremely sad", Patterson wrote on the foundation's website.

In addition to mastering sign language, of which she knew over 1,000 signs (including the middle finger), Koko was also known for her love of kittens and cats.

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