Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

The Gorilla Foundation says it will honor Koko's legacy by working on wildlife conservation in Africa, a great ape sanctuary in Hawaii and a new sign language app.

The Gorilla Foundation said the 46-year-old western lowland gorilla died in its sleep at the foundation's preserve in California's Santa Cruz mountains on Tuesday.

Although she only met Robin Williams once in 2011, Koko mourned the late Oscar victor after he died in August 2014 by signing to Patterson, "CRY LIP".

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Koko was beloved worldwide, having appeared on the cover on National Geographic and documentaries.

The foundation said Koko's capacity for language and empathy opened the minds and hearts of millions. "From an early age I was fascinated with Koko and she taught me so much about love, kindness, respect for animals, and our planet".

She adopted and named pets, including a kitten she called All Ball. "She was beloved and will be deeply missed", the statement said. Koko also appeared on an episode of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

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"At the end of the day, Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering". Koko exhibited another one of her talents on the 1978 National Geographic cover, which featured a photo of her that she had taken in the mirror.

She was even able to meet now deceased actor and comedian Robin Williams, who played with the gorilla on a visit to her enclosure.

In 2004, she met Betty White, who was on the board of directors of the Gorilla Foundation. She also understood spoken English.

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Koko was among a handful of primates who could communicate using sign language; others included Washoe, a female chimpanzee in Washington state, and Chantek, a male orangutan in Atlanta.

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