The first time I ever heard about Koko, it was in reference to her and her kitties. I remember thinking about how incredible it was, that a gorilla had the mental capacity to understand the relationship between a human and a pet. Not only did she understand it, but she felt the love required for maintaining it.
Koko and Her Kitties
Koko has had a few different kitties over the years and has learned the hard lesson of loss and grief that we all know eventually comes with having a pet. The losses she experienced were caused by various situations and through no fault of her own. One died of natural causes, at an old age, while another moved away with a caretaker. Perhaps the most painful loss was that of her first kitty, All Ball. Koko got All Ball in 1984 after signing that she wanted a kitten for Christmas. She named her kitty this because she looked, to her, like a little ball of fur. All Ball was tragically killed when hit by a car.
After a period of time with no pets, Koko just adopted two new kitties for her birthday last year. After deciding on one, a second kitty couldn’t contain it’s joy upon seeing a gorilla and fell in love with Koko, which is not hard to do. She ended up keeping both of them. Koko signed to her trainers, telling them that the kittens are her babies, because she doesn’t have babies of her own.
This nurturing and loving behavior has led Koko into thinking more about babies. She badly wants one of her own and has been seen carrying her dolls around as if they were baby gorillas. She pretends that her babies know sign language, too and will move their arms to sign for them.
After spending quite a bit of time with a couple of male gorillas, she formed a sibling relationship with one, Michael, who passed away in 2000. She has become close with the other, Ndume, but has yet to show any desire to mate with him. It has been greatly speculated as to whether Koko will teach her baby sign language.
Gorillas are an endangered species and have become incredibly rare, so we will all hold our breaths and hope that Koko gets her wish to become a mother. Not only for her sake, but for the sake of her species as well. Besides, the world could use another highly educated gorilla with outstanding moral values.