Koko Reads Animalia

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Videographer: Penny Patterson

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Gorillas can be extremely sensitive.

Koko looks through a new picture book sent to her as a gift from a Gorilla Foundation volunteer, Kimberly Sullivan. Koko signs about certain pictures that she likes: for example “flowers” when she sees some pretty flowers, “red” (and “lipstick drink”) when she sees a picture of red cats (she used to have a cat named “lips lipstick”). She also opens the gift card and signs “cat,” which is on the cover of the card. When Penny asks her to select her favorite picture in the book, she of course selects the red cats. But when Penny asks her to select a picture for Ron (co-founder Dr. Ron Cohn, her usual photographer and father figure) she selects the picture of an alligator featuring a large open mouth full of sharp teeth (alligator toys are Koko’s favorites for “scaring” people, and herself). When Ron comes over to see Koko’s pick, Koko seems a bit embarrassed and puts her hands over her face to sign “unattention.”