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Dear Friend,

I wanted to make sure you didn't miss the video enclosed in this email (see below) as I think it demonstrates the power of Koko and interspecies communication to uplift the world, and inspire us to protect endangered species, save our environment, and add meaning to our lives. Please take a few minutes to read this email and watch the video, and then consider supporting our new adventure to treat all gorillas like Koko!


First, A Wish for Ndume

It’s been almost 2 months since he left, and his most beloved and dedicated Gorilla Foundation caregivers have been with him every step of the way. Because of your support, two of his caregivers were with him during the first 2 weeks, and one is staying with him for the full 2 months to help him adapt.

Ndume (Pre-Transfer)

After emerging from quarantine, Ndume seems to be doing well, but there remain some significant challenges ahead, including introductions to other gorillas, getting used to zoo visitors, and having to say goodbye to his favorite Gorilla Foundation caregiver for good. We are all doing our best to help him thrive and thank the Cincinnati Zoo for allowing us to be an integral part of the process.

We will remain especially vigilant and provide Ndume with whatever support he needs, and your continued support will help with the extra caregiver expenses such as travel and accommodations while in Cincinnati.

Although we are heartbroken at seeing Ndume leave our sanctuary home, he will always be in our hearts and our wish is for his continued happiness.

Now, moving forward, we must do more than “wish” as we continue our work for him and other members of his species.

Together, we must take action to help protect critically endangered free-living gorillas from poaching, disease, and habitat loss as well as helping ensure that their captive counterparts in zoos aren’t misunderstood.


The Future of Interspecies Communication

As a long-time supporter of the Gorilla Foundation, you know that we have shown that interspecies communication is a powerful way for humans to realize that other species are not very different from our own and that this engenders understanding, compassion and protection.

So I am thrilled to share with you that I recently participated in the first “Interspecies Internet Workshop,” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and was invigorated to engage with a network of 30 like-minded colleagues and advocates working to broaden the connections between all species.

The experience of these experts ranged from great apes to elephants, dolphins, parrots, dogs and fish — with a common goal of leveraging Internet technology and each other’s experience.

Penny Presenting at the Interspecies Internet Workshop
hosted by MIT, Google, and the Jeremy Coller Foundation.
(Shown are Peter Gabriel, Britt Selvitelle, Patricia Gray, Roger Payne and Penny)

The participants seemed to agree on the extraordinary potential of interspecies communication for conservation, captive care, scientific understanding, and improved interspecies relations through increased empathy.

Watch this brief video from my talk for a
peek into the extraordinary world opened up by Koko

to continue communicating with gorillas.

At the Interspecies Internet Workshop, I also made the following two key recommendations to the workshop audience, which I believe were supported by most of the attendees,

Recommendation 1: Enhance Ways for Humans and Gorillas to Communicate. Communicating with great apes can be easy, fun and mutually enriching. There are many different ways to communicate, from natural gestures, to sign language, language cards, stories, art, music, technology and more. All gorillas have the same natural capacity; all they need is the opportunity to express it and be understood.

Recommendation 2: Demonstrate the Benefits of Two-Way Communication.
In order for institutions that house great apes to be motivated to employ interspecies communication, they must see the benefits — to the individual great apes, caregivers, the general public, and endangered species. This requires being open to the recognition of great ape intelligence, emotional sensitivity, individual differences and empathy as assets that enrich the lives of all concerned.


Koko's New Path Forward for Gorillas

With colleagues like those at the Interspecies Internet Workshop, and supporters like you by our side, we can redouble our efforts to extend Koko’s Legacy and help her species and ours realize the profound and sustainable benefits of interspecies communication.

As the pioneer in interspecies communication with gorillas, The Gorilla Foundation is optimally positioned to do thisby applying our core strengths to provide Tools, Training, Data, and Sanctuary, as summarized in this chart:

Strategic Plan
The Gorilla Foundation's Strategic Plan to Help Gorillas

These assets collectively represent the culmination of a half-century of interspecies exploration, made possible by you, dear member, and three wonderful gorillas, Koko, Michael and Ndume, and with your continued support, we can bring them to fruition.

For example, the Koko Signing App (now a prototype) can become the portal for delivering all of our interspecies communication content and educational materials — including the new children’s book, A Wish for Koko — to everyone from children to caregivers, visitors, poachers, protectors, researchers and even captive gorillas and other great apes — from here to Africa!

By delivering these assets, Koko’s Legacy will have the power to engage the world community in conservation through communication.

You Can Help

Just imagine… if humans and gorillas continue “talking” with each other, human empathy towards gorillas will increase and ultimately save them from the poacher’s rifle and extinction.

It will also make gorillas’ lives more self-directed, even joyful, in captivity (which has been our direct experience with Koko, Michael and Ndume), and inspire children worldwide to be more conservation-minded (as evidenced by all the letters we receive from kids and teachers).


When you donate, not only will you be enabling us to continue our 5-decade mission to save our closest living species, you will also receive a copy of our powerful new children's book and educational tool, A Wish for Koko, as a thank-you gift:

Book Offer

About the Book
(free when you donate)

An early review:
I finally found some time to read the children's book, "A Wish for Koko," and I was so touched by it. Such a wonderful tribute to Koko! I look forward to your continued work helping gorillas, as they are such amazing beings!
— M. Callahan

Please, accept this challenge today with a generous donation.
Don’t let Koko’s Legacy — and what it represents — be forgotten.  Together we can create a Koko-inspired future as well as ensuring Ndume’s well-being!

With sincere appreciation and love,

Penny and Koko

Penny's signature
Dr. Penny Patterson
President and Research Director
The Gorilla Foundation / koko.org


  Our wish for Koko is for everyone to recognize that "all gorillas are Kokos"
to be appreciated and cherished as much as she was and always will be!

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The Gorilla Foundation is a Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organization
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