Epilogue (updated May 2020)
Koko befriended many in the decades since this award-winning story was first published. She helped teach her adopted younger brother, Michael, to sign, and nurtured him to become a brilliant storyteller and artist. (Michael passed away in the year 2000, of cardiomyopathy — a disease common in captive gorillas — at the age of 27.) Another handsome silverback, Ndume, came to be her constant companion from 1991 to 2018.
Through it all, Gorilla Foundation co-founder Ron Cohn and I were with Koko every day. We changed from teachers and foster parents to her closest friends…and her students.
On June 18, 2018, Koko passed away at age 46, of natural causes (just 2 weeks before what would have been her 47th birthday). She led a long and fruitful life, with many close friends of many different species.
Koko became an international ambassador for her species, gorillas, who have become critically endangered and face many threats to their existence. By distributing this book, Koko’s Kitten, throughout Africa, the Gorilla Foundation is reaching out to touch hearts and change minds, to help the species survive.
Koko’s legacy will live on forever, inspiring us all to be better humans, through her books, videos and the Kids4Koko web app you are using now. Learn Koko’s (sign) language, and pass it on, so that everyone begins to realize that “all gorillas are Kokos” — and they deserve our love and respect and the opportunity to be heard when they “speak.”
To join The Gorilla Foundation family, and help us transmit Koko’s legacy to future generations, or to get more information about our mission and programs, please sign up for our enewsletter, and if you’re under 18 years old, ask your parents to consider becoming a member of The Gorilla Foundation and making a tax-deductible donation, either online or mailed to The Gorilla Foundation, P.O. Box 620530, Woodside, CA 94062
The Kids4Koko Pledge
As a “Kid for Koko”, you are the key to waking people up to the importance of treating other intelligent species and our planet with love and respect, and ensuring a brighter future for all.
If you agree, please sign the Kids4Koko Pledge and share with your friends.