Koko, the western lowland gorilla was renowned for the ability to communicate in sign language and display human-like emotions tragedically died at age 46. Read on to find out why Koko’s life was incredible and mattered way more than anyone ever thought:
Koko the gorilla is perhaps the most significant animal to date in modern history. She was known “the gorilla that understands 2,000 words and can sign 1,000 of them.” She made a huge impact on the scientific community and the world. Her existence led to major revelations about animal empathy and communication.
Koko was born Hanabi-ko which is Japanese for “fireworks child.” She was named this because her birthdate is actually on American independence day: July 4, 1971. Since she was young she was only called “Koko.”
Koko Meets Penny Patterson
Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo in California. At age 1 she was loaned to Francine “Penny” Patterson, who was a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at Stanford University. She had an interesting theory that animals were a little more like humans than everyone else thought.
Animals Are Like Humans?
Over the course of history, scientists and philosophers have debated about the emotional intelligence and linguistic abilities of animals. Some believe animals have emotions, inner thoughts, and the ability to communicate like humans. Others believe there is a clear line that makes humans distinct from animals. Some argue humans are unique because evolution has allowed us the ability to use a working language and have a sense or understanding of oneself.