Koko, the California gorilla who mastered sign language, has died aged 46

"Robin's ability to just "hang out" with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable", Patterson wrote at the time. Williams made her smile.

Koko the gorilla, who learnt sign language, has died. The cover shot was a selfie she took in a mirror.

Her keepers said she understood some spoken English, too. Cohn said Koko was grief-stricken by the kitten's death. When Williams died in 2014, Koko's handlers said she expressed sadness at the news.

For her 25th birthday, she asked for and received a box of rubber snakes.

The pair bonded in 2001 when Williams visited the foundation, and Koko insisted he tickle her and also wanted to try on his glasses.

"The cat was a Manx and looked like a ball". Her birth name was Hanabi-ko (Japanese for Fireworks Child).




"Her impact has been profound and what she has taught us about the emotional capacity of gorillas and their cognitive abilities will continue to shape the world".

In 2004, Koko used American Sign Language to communicate that her mouth hurt and used a pain scale of 1 to 10 to show how badly it hurt. "I realised how important the work of the Gorilla Foundation is for the future of Koko and her species". Business Insider reports that Koko, who knew over 2,000 words, died in her sleep. Her "tenderness" showed people how loving a gorilla can be, the foundation said.

But the science, deWaal said, was "irrelevant to Koko's pop-image".

Others in the animal research community, however, raised questions about the ethics of humanizing gorillas, who may find it hard or impossible to return to a more natural lifestyle after living among people. The women settled with the foundation in 2005.

Koko's legacy was something much larger than her home in the San Francisco Zoo.

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