Koko the west lowland gorilla, who learned to sign over 1000 words taught to her by her trainer, Penny Patterson, has died in her sleep at age 46.
Koko was born on July 4, 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo. As an infant, she was chosen by Patterson to participate in a language research project. Koko showed an early aptitude for learning American Sign Language, and became a beloved international figure for her skill. She even created signs for words and phrases she was not taught.
In 1985, Koko was featured in National Geographic magazine, for her special relationship with a kitten named All Ball—the story of which is truly one of the sweetest and most pure expressions of love in our time.
Koko’s favorite picture book stories included The Three Little Kittens, and Puss ‘n’ Boots, .