Do Gorillas Feel Empathy?

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Videographer: Ron Cohn

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Koko watches a movie that she’s seen many times before, called “Tea with Mussolini.” When it gets to the “sad” part (the boy is getting on a train and leaving his mother), Koko turns away. Then she begins signing “Frown”, “Sad”, “Trouble”, “Mother” and she looks very tearful. Is she empathizing with the human characters in the movie? We will be conducting a study (Gorilla Emotional Awareness Research Study) soon to answer such questions and more. See Project Koko / Plans.