Koko, the gorilla famous for her capacity for sign language, turned 44 this year. As a present, she received a whole litter of kittens. She fell in love with one, and another fell in love with Koko. The gentle ape has now adopted both Ms. Gray and Ms. Black into her family, showing a humbling amount of compassion for the tiny balls of fluff.
It’s striking just how delicate Koko can be. She has muscles that could quickly and easily lift hundreds of pounds, and yet can control them enough to gingerly pet a squeaking kitten with an inquisitive finger. Her compassion is a reminder how closely related gorillas and other apes are to us in both form and function.
Koko has loved kittens for a long time. She received her first, ALL BALL (a name Koko signed herself), back in 1983. ALL BALL was unfortunately struck by a car six months later, and when Koko learned what had happened, she grieved, like we do. Koko eventually was ready for another kitty companion, and her third, SMOKY, lived with Koko for almost 20 years. Since then, Koko has been receiving kitten visits every so often, and now Ms. Black and Ms. Gray are the newest additions to her family.
The great ape is as famous for her capacity for compassion as she is for signing, so much so that the late, great Robin Williams had the time of his life getting into a tickle fight with Koko:
For more information on Koko, including information on how to help preserve the habit of these incredible creatures, head to Koko.org.