Returning to animal communication skills.

As in how a primate chooses to communicate with humans.

In recent times there have been a couple of posts in this place about the science of communication between dogs and humans.

What about other animals?

What about a gorilla?

If you drop across to the YouTube site and search for Koko the Talking Gorilla you will be astounded by how many videos are to be seen.

Try this one:

A very moving account from Robin Williams.

If we then want more background information on this remarkable animal, Wikipedia is there to oblige (in part):

Hanabiko “Koko” (born July 4, 1971) is a female western lowland gorilla who is known for having learned a large number of hand signs from a modified version of American Sign Language (ASL).

Her instructor and caregiver, animal psychologist Francine “Penny” Patterson, reports that Koko is able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls “Gorilla Sign Language” (GSL).[2] In contrast to other experiments attempting to teach sign language to non-human primates, Patterson simultaneously exposed Koko to spoken English from an early age. Reports state that Koko understands approximately 2,000 words of spoken English, in addition to the signs.[3] Koko’s life and learning process has been described by Patterson and some of her collaborators in a number of books, peer reviewed articles, and on a website.

Then, naturally, Koko has her own website, The Gorilla Foundation, where one can watch more videos, enjoy photographs and even drop in to Koko’s very one blog site!

Time for another video from YouTube.

Published on Oct 13, 2015

Koko got her birthday wish this July 4th — not only did one kitten come to visit, but a whole litter. Koko fell in love with one, and the other fell in love with her. Koko has adopted these two kittens into her family, and it has energized her world.
Not only have Koko’s maternal and play instincts kicked in, but she is signing more to her caregivers and generating new content everyday that can be used by The Gorilla Foundation to create empathy for great apes. This can have significant benefits to both endangered free-living great apes and those in captive environments, by encouraging the development of 2-way communication with their caregivers (which Koko has had since she was a baby).
The Gorilla Foundation is now working on a multimedia sequel to the classic book, “Koko’s Kitten,” which has already reached millions of children worldwide, and has the power to motivate millions more to learn how to make the world a better place for all of its conscious inhabitants.
You can support The Gorilla Foundation mission of Conservation through Communication by visiting

Thank you!

Will close with this photograph seen ‘on the web’.

Graduate student Penny Paterson with a young Koko on her back not long after they met in 1971 in San Francisco. (The Daily Mail newspaper 2nd June, 2016.)

11 thoughts on “Returning to animal communication skills.

    1. We were first introduced to Koko via a documentary featured on the BBC. Made a mental note to write about Koko and was astounded to see how popular some of the YouTube videos had been. Deservedly so!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I remember reading an article on Koko being depressed after Robin Williams death. That was a great share, Paul. She makes a great case for animal intelligence.


    1. Seeing the two of them together it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest to learn from you that Koko mourned the death of Robin Williams. Oh, apologies for the delay in replying but our internet service has been down for much of the day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No better illustrated than by our home internet service being out from yesterday afternoon until well after bedtime!

        Hence there being no post for today, Thursday.


  2. I also didn’t realize that Koko was still around. It’s good to know as he has taught us so much about the animal world. So many more people still need to be enlightened. Thank you for sharing this.


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