Koko The Gorilla, Who Gained International Fame For Learning Sign Language And Cuddling Her Cat, Dies At 46

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The animal world just lost a legend.

According to the BBC, Koko, the brilliant gorilla that gained worldwide fame has passed away at the ripe old age of 46-years-old. Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo but lived most of her life at the Gorilla Foundation in California. As many will recall, the gorilla became well-known after learning a version of American Sign Language and being able to communicate by using over 1,000 signs.

She also apparently understood some spoken English (around 2,000 words) and even had a pet kitten named All Ball, who she would cuddle with. Remarkably, the gorilla had a very high IQ of between 75 and 95. In comparison, the average IQ for humans is usually around 100, though many people test somewhere between 85 and 115.

According to CBS News, Dr. Francine Patterson taught Koko sign language which eventually became part of a Stanford University project in 1974. The famed gorilla also appeared in a ton of documentaries in addition to a couple of appearances on the National Geographic channel.

Following the heartbreaking loss, the Gorilla Foundation released a statement.

“Koko – the gorilla known for her extraordinary mastery of sign language, and as the primary ambassador for her endangered species – passed away yesterday [Wednesday] morning in her sleep at the age of 46.”

“Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy. She was beloved and will be deeply missed,” the release went on to say.

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And Koko was also loved by many celebrities, including the late Robin Williams. Upon Williams’ death, Koko paid tribute to her meetings with Williams in a YouTube video. Robin and Koko first met in 2001 and the pair laughed and bonded together. Since the video was first posted back in 2014, it has already been viewed over 5 million times.

“Robin Williams met Koko in 2001. It was a very cheerful encounter for both, and Koko has treasured it to this day. When Koko learned of Robin’s passing (on Aug. 11, 2014) she became very sad. We hope this video will lift her spirits and remind everyone of the profound gift of joy that Robin Williams brought to our world,” the description of the video states.

Thus far, the video has received a ton of attention with 27,000 likes as well as 1,400 comments. It’s really sad to now think that both of these vibrant creatures are no longer with us, but as fans, at least we have videos to remember both Koko and Robin by.

One thing is for sure: Koko will be dearly missed.