June 21, 2018
Koko, arguably the world’s most famous Gorilla, has died at the age of 46. Known for her ability to communicate through sign language, Koko forever changed our conceptions of primate intelligence and emotional capacities.
Koko the Gorilla, Famous for Learning Sign Language, Has Died
Earlier today, the Gorilla Foundation, a not-for-profit that cared for Koko, announced the sad news in a tweet.
“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,” noted the Gorilla Foundation.
Koko, who passed away on June 19 in Woodside, California, died at the age of 46, which is actually quite old for gorillas, who rarely make it to 50. The female lowland gorilla was born on the 4th of July in 1971, and was originally named Hanabiko, which is Japanese for “fireworks child.”
Koko the Gorilla, Famous for Learning Sign Language, Has Died
Koko was famous for her remarkable social skills, namely her ability to communicate with humans through American Sign Language. Koko, as part of psychologist Penny Patterson’s thesis project, was taught to sign when she was still an infant. Over the years she acquired well over 1,000 signs, 600 of which she used on a regular basis. Originally based at the San Francisco Zoo, Patterson’s project is now considered the longest running ape language study in the world.
By the time she was seven years old, Koko had already become a household name. She appeared twice on the cover of National Geographic—a 1978 cover in which she famously took her own picture in a mirror, and a 1985 cover in which she famously snuggles her pet kitten.
Researcher say Koko, who enjoyed picture books based on the “Three Little Kittens” and “Puss in Boot” stories, asked for a pet cat in 1983 and flatly refused a stuffed animal substitute, saying it made her “sad.” Finally she was granted a kitten, which she named All Ball. Koko would play with the kitten for hours, but when All Ball was fed up with being babied she’d wiggle away from Koko, prompting the gorilla to sign “obnoxious” and “cat.” Sadly, All Ball was struck and killed by a car just six months later. Koko appeared to express sadness over losing the pet, signing “cat,” “cry,” “have-sorry,” and “Koko-love.”

Koko would go on to meet with such celebrities and Betty White, Fred Rogers and Robin Williams. In 2012, she learned to play the recorder, showing that gorillas are capable of controlling their breathing, a capacity previously thought impossible for nonhuman primates. In 1976, the Gorilla Foundation was formed to house Koko and a male gorilla named Michael, who also knew how to sign and died in 2000. It took on another male named Ndume in 1991, who was housed alongside Koko until her death this past Tuesday.
Over the course of the sign language project, some critics, such as linguist Noam Chomsky and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, complained that Koko didn’t really understand what she was doing or saying, and that she was merely copying the researchers’ hand movements, or trying to earn rewards and praise. This is becoming an increasingly minority position given what scientists are learning about primate intelligence and their innate communication skills.
Researchers have since taught other great apes to sign, including chimps, bonobos, and orangutans. It’s generally agreed that, while these animals can learn to convey words in meaningful ways, they lack the capacity for syntax and proper grammar. When signing, Koko and other primates express a word here or there, sometimes stringing several words together to express more complicated meanings. But as for uttering complex, grammatically correct sentences, that’s considered beyond their capacities.
Nonhuman primates cannot speak like us because they don’t have human-like vocal cords, which can close fully. Nonhuman primates have also been taught to communicate with keyboards, expressing themselves through graphics-based, symbolic languages.
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Tekashi 6ix9ine Shoots Music Video After Release from House Arrest
August 02, 2020
VyVVV5Tg1EA
Montana Couple Married at Age 91, Signed a Prenup | TMZ
August 02, 2020
1sImDqNXfko
Donald Trump Suggests Presidential Election Should Be Delayed | TMZ
July 31, 2020
dueLNw16vkY
Al Roker Talks New Book, George Floyd & Being on "TODAY" | Daily Pop | E! News
August 03, 2020
TC2Kb1J10GQ
Is Clare Crawley Quitting "The Bachelorette"? | Daily Pop | E! News
August 03, 2020
LoIhGfCkTHg
How Martha Stewart's Living a Hot Girl Summer in Quarantine | E! News
August 03, 2020
P9JtvNrTKhQ
Davina Potratz wishes her softer side was shown on ‘Selling Sunset’ | Page Six Celebrity News
July 31, 2020
5E6w1CgPiEI
Will Ellen Degeneres be replaced? | Page Six Celebrity News
July 30, 2020
qL3cje-HhPM
Selling Sunset's Christine Quinn reveals why she feuds with Heather Rae Young, Davina Potratz
July 30, 2020
s7kL7qBqzg4
Chris Meloni talks 'Maxxx' and His Return to 'Law and Order'
July 30, 2020
ZFTDB-dwyUA
'The Fugitive' Star Boyd Holbrook Shares Why He Left 'Narcos' After 2 Seasons
July 30, 2020
2kTuD8LTGCE
'Umbrella Academy' Season 2 Finds The Hargreeves Navigating the 1960s
July 24, 2020
JdPgaIxmUKg
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
02
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Verona
02
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Torino
02
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Lecce - Parma
02
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Sassuolo - Udinese
02
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Spal - Fiorentina
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Roma
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Cagliari
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Lazio
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
29
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Roma
29
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - Juventus
29
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Sampdoria - AC Milan
28
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Napoli
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Norwich City
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Watford
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Manchester United
26
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Sampdoria
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Wolves
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Liverpool
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Tottenham Hotspur
26
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Fiorentina
25
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Sassuolo
25
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Inter Milan
24
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Atalanta
23
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Juventus
22
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Chelsea
22
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - West Ham United
22
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Spal - Roma
22
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Fiorentina
22
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Napoli
21
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Sassuolo - AC Milan
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
-g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.