Home Curiosity Koko, The Incredible Gorilla Who Learned Sign Language, Died At Age 46

Koko, The Incredible Gorilla Who Learned Sign Language, Died At Age 46


Koko, the intelligent animal who mastered sign language, the gorilla who touched the lived of millions as an icon for interspecies communication, died.

The Gorilla Foundation confirmed that she died in her sleep during the morning of June 19th, 2018 at the age of 46.

Koko was a western gorilla born at the San Fran Zoo in 1971. She began learning sign language very early in her life. In 1974, researchers moved her to Stanford and established The Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that still works on protecting and preserving gorillas. Koko and The Gorilla Foundation later moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains.

All her life, she enjoyed reading, but she also loved to be read to. She even purred at the parts she particularly liked. Koko was known as a very maternal towards kittens and as a result, she’s had a few that she cared for throughout her life.

One of the most memorable things about her was the fact that she made friends with famous people like Fred Rogers and Robin Williams. This intelligent creature used her sign language skills to communicate with them.

She understood 2.000 words of spoken English and she could keep up a conversation.


But according to The Gorilla Foundation, the most important thing that she did while she was alive was her contribution to teaching the world a lot about the emotional capacity and the cognitive abilities of gorillas.

Koko appeared in many documentaries and twice on the cover of National Geographic. She was widely known through her appearances and also the release of a photo book about her and a kitten that lived with her.

The gorilla foundation will keep working in on protection and conservation of gorillas in her honor. May her soul rests in eternal peace.