Gorillas are some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet. As primates, they are only second in intelligence to human beings (although you wouldn’t know it, given how dumb we can be sometimes!). The capacity gorillas have for relationship, communication, and interaction is shocking when seen up close.
Koko the gorilla is probably the most famous gorilla in the world.
With her own Wikipedia page, she is more famous than most humans are! Koko is one of the smartest gorillas around and has taken IQ tests and learned sign language. She communicates with her friends and has even invented her own signs when she wants to express a new thought.
Koko asked for a cat in 1983 and was given a stuffed one.
When she received the stuffed cat, she was disappointed and refused to play with it. She motioned “sad” repeatedly and it was apparent she wanted her own baby kitten. In 1984, she was given a box of kittens to pick from and she picked a gray one that she named “All Ball”! Unfortunately, the cat escaped the enclosure and was hit by a car and killed. Upon hearing the news, Koko signed ” “Bad, sad, bad” and “Frown, cry, frown, sad, trouble”
That was quite a long time ago. Since then, Koko has adopted more kittens.
In 2015, she was once again offered a kitten to choose on her birthday! The keeps all took guesses on which one she would choose and one of them was right. It may have had something to do with it being the same color as her first kitten she ever had.
When Koko holds the kitten, you can tell she has some motherly instincts.
Many people think gorillas are brutal and mean. While they do have the capacity to hurt others, they have similar capacity to care and nurture those they love. If we are honest, it sounds a bit like humans! When Koko holds her new friend, it is with the tenderness of a mother.
Koko’s new kitten plays with her while she gets her hair brushed.
While Koko is getting her hair brushed, the kitten even goes along to help! You can tell there is an instant bond between the two. Koko really acts as a mother to the kitten and even goes so far as to have her sleep with her. Pretty brutal, right?
The whole event just goes to show how much capacity and intelligence gorillas have.
The researchers used the moment as a way to study and learn more about Koko and her motherly instincts. While it is good to understand and to know, it also just goes to show how loving other animals can be. As it turns out, humans don’t have a monopoly on love and affection.
Koko has since passed away, but her legacy lives on.
Koko passed away at age 46 in a reserve. She passed in her sleep and was as peaceful in death as she was in life. Koko was a pioneer in allowing us to study and understand our distant relatives and our past. When we look into gorillas, we see their potential for violence, but also for love. Maybe we see ourselves when we look into their curious eyes.
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