Koko The Gorilla passed away at the age of 46 earlier this week. The beloved western lowland gorilla is missed by the many millions of lives she touched, and stars like Betty White sent out heartfelt tributes upon hearing the news.
According to a Newsweek report, Koko met many famous people during her more than four-and-a-half-decade life. One of those celebrities includes the fabulous Betty White. The Gorilla Foundation’s website says, “Betty met Koko in 2004 and became best friends almost immediately.”
In her book, If You Ask Me, White wrote an entire chapter about Koko, and Koko looked at White’s book and pointed out Betty, which is only one of the fantastic things Koko could do. White served on The Gorilla Foundation’s Board from 2004 to 2016, and Betty met the beautiful being, who had mastered American Sign Language and communicated with people, several times during her tenure on the board.
Variety reported that Koko enjoyed watching her good friend Betty White in TV shows and movies like Golden Girls and Pretty Woman.
White took to Twitter to mourn the passing of her unique friend. She’s had to say many tough goodbyes over the last several years, and saying goodbye to Koko wasn’t any easier than any other. The 96-year-old actress wrote a touching note she shared with her followers.
“I treasure every minute we spent together #koko,” she tweeted.
Born at the San Francisco Zoo, Koko lived much of her life at the Gorilla Foundation’s headquarters in Woodside, California. Psychologist Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson brought her there as part of a study on language. In 1978, the lowland gorilla’s grasp of ASL stunned the world when National Geographic featured Koko on its cover.
Over her long life, Koko also met other celebrities, like the late comedian Robin Williams. During their meeting, they took turns making silly faces at each other, and then Koko took a look at the actor’s exciting wallet. Williams said Koko was “awesome and unforgettable.” When she heard the news of Robin Williams’ passing, Koko got visibly upset because she could understand human language and knew he had died.
She also appeared on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Koko had grown up watching the famous children’s show on TV. She even taught her friend, Mister Rogers, the sign for “I love you.” The two got along wonderfully when they worked together on the episode.
The world lost a treasure when Koko died earlier this week. She forever changed the way people understood and viewed gorillas. Betty White’s sweet tribute to her friend sincerely expressed what many people felt upon hearing the news.