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Robin Williams Meets Koko
Koko is a 35 year-old lowland gorilla who learned to speak American Sign Language when she was just a baby. Her teacher, Dr. Penny Patterson, began working with Koko as a Ph.D. project at Stanford, thinking it would only be a 4-year study.

Thirty-some years later, Penny and Koko continue to work together at the Gorilla Foundation in one of the longest interspecies communication studies ever conducted, the only one with gorillas. Koko now has a vocabulary of over 1000 signs, and understands even more spoken English.

Koko has become famous not only for her language capabilities, but also her heart-warming relationship with kittens (captured in the book Koko's Kitten). As Penny says, "she's just as much a person as we are."
Koko Signs "Love"

Koko's greatest desire is to have a baby. She has indicated that she will teach her children sign language, which will engender the next generation of interspecies communication.

Koko has become the ambassador for her critically endangered species. People need to care about a species to save it, and Koko makes people care! The pending completion of the new Maui Ape Preserve by the Gorilla Foundation, and the expansion of our Africa Projects, will help assure the future for Koko, ape language studies, free-lliving gorillas and other great ape species. You can help!

Note that while Koko is well known for her communication skills, she is not unique. Koko's late male companion, Michael, was also fluent in sign language, a prolific painter, and intelligent beyond anyone's wildest expectations. And Koko's current silverback companion, Ndume, is equally personable, empathetic and intelligent. Koko's species is remarkable indeed.
Learn More  |  Donate Now  |   A Message from Koko  |  The Significance of Project Koko