- The gorilla who became famous for sign language was deceased in her sleep. Koko was 46 years old. The Gorilla Foundation has announced this in Woodside, Florida. The western lowland gorilla was born on 4 July 1971 at the San Francisco zoo as Hanabi-ko, Japanese for 'fireworks child'.
A year later, Penny Patterson began teaching the young animal the principles of sign language adapted for the monkey's hand. The psychologist continued the learning process and her primate research in Stanford and then in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Koko was joined by her congener Michael and, when she died in 2000, from Ndume. Eventually Koko knew more than a thousand gestures, including the raised middle finger, to communicate with people. She usually took the initiative for a wordless conversation.
It was alleged that the smart gorilla, who also recognized a good number of English words, came up with IQ tests at a score of between 70 and 95. She was given extra recognition by adopting a kitten as a pet and by the remark of her nurse that Koko was very sad after the death of the actor Robin Williams, whom she had met in 2001.