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Koko’s Stamp of Approval

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As I am sitting on the swing outside the large enclosure Koko comes over to me. Amongst the notebook, daily checklist and data sheets I am holding, I have a printed version of our new 3D representation of the planned Maui Sanctuary habitat. As I review it, I share it with Koko, flipping through several pages depicting the layout of the sanctuary, including an aerial view of the 3D model. When I show her a page with herself and Ndume in the new yard she purrs* in contentment. Next I show her one (reproduced here) that includes me in the communication pagoda as well as her and Ndume outside it. She signs, “Me people, there you.” Interesting comment, as I am clearly the one in the “cage” in this future home for the gorillas! When I think of how much more appropriate–large, free, warm and natural–this setting will be, I yearn for the day that she and her gorilla family will actually live and prosper there. * Purring is a low-pitched vocalization that is a sign of contentment in gorillas.

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