A Brief History of The Gorilla Foundation

The Gorilla Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, protection and well-being of gorillas and other great apes through interspecies communication research and education. Established in 1976 as a 501(c)(3) corporation, it is best known for “Project Koko,”  the longest interspecies communication study in history, and the only one involving gorillas.  It  has evolved into an institution that provides a unique resource for great ape conservation, care and understanding.


Mission & Strategy

Learn about the Gorilla Foundation’s mission of conservation through communication with gorillas like Koko, and our strategy of combining research, education and optimal  care into a recipe for conservation. Learn more

History & Milestones

Spanning more than 4 decades (the longest interspecies communication project in history)  Project Koko has accomplished many milestones; yet there is still much critically important work to do. Learn more


Project Koko supports Education, Conservation and Care with benefits for all great apes. For example, our Education program reaches students worldwide, inspiring them to be responsible stewards of nature. Learn more


Meet gorillas Koko and Ndume, as well as the late Michael, who grew up with Koko and also learned sign language.  The gorillas can be considered an extended part of our great ape Team. Learn more


The Gorilla Foundation’s financial support comes primarily from its membership base of  over 40,000 donors and a few private foundations.  We are now seeking major partners to advance our mission. Learn more


Since Koko’s passing in 2018, The Gorilla Foundation, led by its 2 Founders (for 43 years), has streamlined its operations to prepare for “phase 2” of Project Koko — Bringing interspecies communication to the public (which includes children, zoos, sanctuaries, and the African habitats where gorillas live and face the ongoing threat of extinction).  Thus, we are currently a small group of researchers, educators and volunteers, working overtime to maximize Koko’s Legacy, with help from both a governing and a scientific advisory board.  Were updating our team section now, and will post it during the week of Oct. 21-25.