Motherly Gorilla Is Given A Box Of Kittens For Her Birthday

Sep 03, 2021 by apost team

Koko was one special gorilla. She could communicate very well with her handlers and loved taking on a mother role to other animals. After becoming a part of the longest experiment to teach language to another species, Koko had become an icon for The Gorilla Foundation. 

Koko's instructor and caregiver was Francine "Penny" Patterson and she was the one who reported that Koko could communicate via what she called "Gorilla Sign Language" (GSL), claiming that Koko had an active vocabulary of over 1,000 signs. This meant that Koko's vocabulary was the same level as a 3-year-old human child.

What's more, Patterson exposed Koko to English as well and stated that the gorilla could understand around 2,000 words of spoken English. It speaks to Koko's intelligence that she was so knowledgeable and also her incredibly close relationship with Patterson.

On top of her language skills, Koko also took an interest in art and she also loved kittens. In this video from Feb. 2018, Koko is seen interacting with a box of kittens she'd received on her 44th birthday. According to The Gorilla Foundation, Koko loved babies.

Although her handlers weren't able to find Koka a baby gorilla, they did find her possibly the next best thing. As a gift for her birthday, her handlers got Koko a box full of adorable kittens. When Koko saw the kittens, she was overjoyed and immediately picked one up to cuddle and play with. However, one kitten, in particular, a sweet gray kitten aptly named Ms. Gray, caught Koko's eye.  

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-) 

When Koko picked up Ms. Gray she immediately took to the kitten and began snuggling with her. The kitten seemed equally enamored with her new gorilla mother. Koko was able to choose two kittens to keep. Of course, she kept Ms. Gray. She also kept a black kitten named Ms. Black.

As Koko bonded with her kittens, her handlers were astonished at how well she communicated her needs. At one point in the video, Koko places her hand on her head in an effort to inform her handlers that she wanted one of the kittens to sit on her head. However, considering how intelligent Koko is and knowledgeable about GSL, it's not all that surprising.

Meanwhile, another portion of the video shows Koko being brushed by her handlers with the kittens assisting and scratching the gorilla's back at the same time. It's incredibly sweet to see the bond that these two animals share, with one a large yet gentle gorilla and the other a tiny but excitable kitten. As you can imagine, the video has been viewed a lot of times since it was uploaded in 2015 — over 17 million to be exact!

Gorillas are very intelligent and hold similar attributes to humans, from their hands to their ability to communicate. It's no wonder Koko has bonded with these kittens so quickly as humans are very similar and enjoy having kittens as pets. Koko is so gentle with her newfound feline friends, which is quite amazing given her sheer size and strength. She's a gentle giant, though, and has really taken well to her motherly role.

In Koko's biography on The Gorilla Foundation's official website, she is described as "perhaps the best-known gorilla in the world," due to her sign language skills and artistic abilities. No doubt this video of her with her kittens, which became popular on the internet, helped to bring even more fame to this majestic ape. Koko's video was shared in an effort to help raise funds for The Gorilla Foundation, which is committed to saving the gorilla species. Donations can be made directly on Koko's website.

Born on July 4, 1971, Koko had a tough life when she was still an infant, as she got ill and had to be hand-reared by a human caregiver. This led to her being rejected by her gorilla mom but eventually led her to Patterson, the psychologist who taught Koko her language skills. What was only meant to be a four-year commitment eventually turned into a four-decade-long relationship that brought the two together and changed the way humans perceive gorillas.

After spending much of her life engaging in research with Patterson, Koko was transferred to a reserve in Woodside, California, where she lived alongside another gorilla named Michael, who had also learned sign language. After he died in 2000, Koko got another gorilla friend to live with, Ndume.

Sadly, however, Koko passed away at the age of 46 in June of 2018 due to natural causes, not long after this video was taken. However, her legacy lives on through the foundation and its effort to preserve gorillas, as they are an endangered species.      

Did this video of Koko, Ms. Gray and Ms. Black make you smile? Were you surprised at Koko's gentleness, or did you already know that gorillas are gentle giants and capable of taking care of even the tiniest kittens? Be sure to pass this video along to your family and friends so they can witness how sweet Koko is with her two new feline friends.  

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