Posted on May 3, 2019 by Marcos Ferreira

Why is there a Stuffed Gorilla in the Reception Area?

Meet Koko. Koko was a real Gorilla (July 4, 1971- June 19, 2018). Koko was taught sign language by her instructor and caregiver, Francine Patterson. By the end of her life, she is said to have had a vocabulary of 1000 ASL signs and was able to understand 2000 words of spoken English. Were her language skills perfect? Definitely not. Is there some controversy around her abilities? For sure! Nevertheless, she seemed to have learned enough to be able to express herself.


Koko & All Ball


When Koko got a stuffed kitten for Christmas instead of the real one she requested, she did not play with it and continued to sign “sad”.

She ended up getting a kitten for her birthday and named him All Ball. She loved and cared for the kitten as if it were her own:

Except the time that Koko ripped a sink out of the wall and, when asked about, she pointed to at All Ball and signed “cat did it.” Nice try Koko!

“In December 1984, All Ball escaped from Koko’s cage and was hit and killed by a car. When told that All Ball had been killed Koko signed “Bad, sad, bad” and “Frown, cry, frown, sad, put on head”. Her keepers also reported later hearing Koko making a sound similar to human weeping.” (Wikipedia)

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