Home Beautiful World of Animals Koko the gorilla has a unique way of communicating

Koko the gorilla has a unique way of communicating


kKoko is a female gorilla who understands sign language.

According to her caregiver, Francine “Penny” Patterson, Koko has learnt over 1,000 signs of GSL (Gorilla Sign Language), taught by Penny herself. GSL, as Penny calls it, is a modified version of ASL (American Sign Language).

In addition, Koko can understand about 2,000 English words, despite the fact that her use of language is no better than that of a human child.

Nevertheless, it is outstanding that animals such as Koko can pick up languages to be able to communicate with us.

Fun Facts about Koko

“Koko” is short for “Hanabiko”, her real name

Born on July 4, 1971 in San Francisco, California, USA, at the San Francisco Zoo

“Hanabiko” means “fireworks child”, which symbolizes her date of birth – the 4th of July

Lives with a male gorilla named Ndume

Koko is a western lowland gorilla

Loves to play

Weighs more than an average gorilla

Koko and Penny are the first human and gorilla pair that can speak the same language


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