Koko is without a doubt the world’s most renowned (non-fictional) gorilla. Back in 1983, she captured the hearts of the world when she adopted a kitten and was featured on a historic National Geographic cover cradling her new pet in her arms. Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo and was loaned to monkey researcher Francine Patterson when she was a year old, where she has remained ever since. Patterson was fascinated by great apes’ use of sign language and taught Koko a form of sign language.
Patterson claims that Koko understands roughly 1,000 signs in “Gorilla Sign Language” and twice as many words in spoken English. Koko appears to have a sophisticated comprehension of language: she can talk about things that aren’t present, use language to talk about language, and even use false language for funny effects. Other scientists, on the other hand, have been skeptical of Patterson’s findings. Whatever the case may be, there is no denying that Koko is a magnificent gorilla.
Koko’s caregivers arranged a wonderful surprise for her when she turned 44. They remembered how much the gorilla had adored the cat she’d had over 30 years ago, so they decided a box of kittens would be the ideal birthday gift! As you can see in the video below, Koko was smitten with this concept. She immediately took a liking to a gray kitten and gently lifted it from its box. Meanwhile, the gorilla was effectively adopted by a mostly black kitten. Koko motioned for a kitten to be placed on her head, and the sight of the tiny kitten perched on the big yet kind gorilla’s head is just wonderful.
Are you surprised that a gorilla may have a pet? Or how about Koko with her first kitten? Let us know in the Facebook comments, and don’t forget to like and share!