Less than 24 hours after the world learned of Robin Williams’ heartbreaking death by apparent suicide at age 63, it seems like there is little left to be said about the universally admired and beloved actor and comedian. While he was alive, the number of hearts he was able to touch was evident. But with his passing, it is now clear that the impact that Robin Williams had on lives around the country and the world was astonishing, and powerful.
As tribute after tribute has pointed out, though he possessed a rare gift as a performer, Robin Williams was known as an even better human being, brimming with kindness and generosity.
As this incredibly charming video, made in 2004, shows, his kindness and connection with others did not end with his fellow members of the human race. As you’ll see, Robin Williams got along beautifully and effortlessly with Koko, the famous gorilla who, her handlers say, can communicate fluently in a somewhat modified version of American Sign Language.
Not only does Koko ask Robin Williams to tickle her — a request he happily fulfills — she swipes his sunglasses and, amazingly, appears to recognize Robin Williams from a video of his movie, Mrs. Doubtfire.
The meeting between Robin Williams and Koko was arranged as part of a public service campaign about the threats facing the world’s gorilla population.
“Meeting Koko was unforgettable,” Robin Williams said, looking back on the experience. “Koko used sign language to ask me to play with her. We shared interspecies laughter.”
“Koko instantly connected with Robin,” remembered Koko’s main handler, Dr, Penny Patterson. “Koko, like us, can sense a person’s nature and in this case, she was quickly drawn to Robin’s warm heart.”
Research has shown that Koko feels emotions such and empathy and sadness, and understands the concept of loss. If she has been told, it is likely that today that Koko is one of the millions mourning the passing of Robin Williams.