Programs / KokoArc


1) Preserve and digitize 5 decades of interspecies communication multimedia data featuring gorillas Koko, Michael and Ndume, and store the data in an interactive database (KokoArc).

2) Analyze the data for trends in gorilla sign language use, acquisition, comprehension, production, and creativity, as well as other forms of communication (art, written/spoken English, etc).

3) Identify untaught (natural) gorilla gestures versus taught ASL (American Sign Language) signs that are present within captive and free-living gorilla groups.

4) Use the data to advance our understanding of gorillas, and as a tool for public education, caregiver training, and conservation.

Why this is Important?

Gorillas remain a critically endangered species in the wild and their care in captivity is unacceptable — given their intellectual and emotional capacity, similarities with humans and self-awareness.   The KokoArc database and its application to interspecies communication has the potential to solve both problems by increasing understanding of, and empathy for,  our fellow great apes.


1)  A KokoArc multimedia database has been designed and implemented in a way that allows us to track all parameters of interest in our interspecies communication video and text data, and share it remotely via the internet.

2) Over five hundred hours of video footage have already been digitized (out of over one thousand hours).

3) We are posting excerpts from the KokoArc database every week on our website, social media and in our weekly Koko eNewsletters.


1) Finish digitizing all KokoArc videos (Dec. 2023) 

2) Continue sharing excerpts of KokoArc videos each week (ongoing).

3) Utilize KokoArc video data to inform the new KokoApp (Jan. 2023).

3) Begin digitizing our interspecies communication research diaries: over 50,000 pages (Sep. 2023).

4) Begin analyzing KokoArc videos and notes, to quantify linguistic and cognitive abilities of gorillas like Koko and Michael (Sep. 2023)

5) Finish analyzing KokoArc videos (Dec. 2024)

6) Finish digitizing and transcribing KokoArc handwritten research notes (Dec. 2024)

7) Share the results of KokoArc analysis with other researchers; invite them to co-publish (Dec. 2024)