Koko the Gorilla Dead at 46

Koko The Gorilla Koko

Koko the Gorilla Dies at 46

"Betty met Koko in 2004 and became best friends nearly immediately", says the description of their meeting on The Gorilla Foundation's website.

Koko, who was known for her unique ability to communicate through sign language, died in her sleep on Tuesday, June 19, at The Gorilla Foundation in Santa Cruz, California.

The first cover, in October of 1978, featured a photograph Koko had taken of herself in a mirror. Koko's handlers said at that time, she hadn't smiled in six months since her lifelong partner passed away.

Koko, a western lowland gorilla, was born on the Fourth of July in 1971.

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The Gorilla Foundation has announced the death of their beloved gorilla Koko, aged 46.

In the late 1990s, Koko participated in an online chat with thousands of people on AOL.

Researchers moved her to Stanford in 1974 and established The Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect gorillas. Over the years Koko adopted many pairs of kittens - the last in 2015 for her birthday. According to Francine "Penny" Patterson, her long-time trainer, Koko was able to engage in 2-way communication ever since she was a baby. They made faces at each other and Koko even seemed to recall seeing Williams in a movie. The Gorilla Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at protecting the species and their habitats, said in a statement that Koko will be remembered as "as the primary ambassador for her endangered species". In the years that followed, the ape became a bona fide celebrity when it was revealed Patterson had taught her to "talk" with a 500-word sign language vocabulary. She also guested on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood", an encounter which was excerpted in the current documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

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