Staff

PENNY PATTERSON, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, President & Director of Research

Dr. Patterson received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Stanford University where, as a graduate student in 1972, she began working with one-year-old Koko, a western lowland gorilla, thus beginning the longest ongoing interspecies communication study ever undertaken.

In 1976, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Ronald Cohn, and the late Barbara F. Hiller established the Gorilla Foundation to benefit gorillas living in captivity and those struggling to survive in Africa, and to continue the dialogue with great apes.

The author of more than 40 scientific publications plus books for the general public such as The Education of Koko with Eugene Linden, and the award-winning children’s books, Koko’s Kitten and Koko’s Story, Dr. Patterson has earned numerous awards and honors including National Geographic Society grants and the Rolex Award for Enterprise for her work with Koko and male gorillas Michael and Ndume.

For the past couple of decades, Dr. Patterson's focus has been on exploring the limits of interspecies communication with gorillas (Koko and Ndume) in order to provide a resource for improved gorilla care in captivity, and to accelerate gorilla conservation for free-living gorillas in Africa, who are now critically endangered.

She spends most of her days providing optimal care to gorillas Koko and Ndume, taking observational notes on her interactions with the two gorillas, and meeting with management, staff and consultants to formulate new ways to increase the benefits of Project Koko for all of great ape species (including humans).

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The Gorilla Foundation / Koko.org
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

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Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.

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