Koko the Gorilla Has a Message For Humanity


Koko the gorilla has captured our hearts for decades. This beautiful animal is compassionate and caring. She understands things on an emotional level and knows how to express her feelings. She has a way of simplifying things the way that a child would and it makes us feel everything a little stronger.

Koko the Gorilla

Koko is a western lowland gorilla and was born at the San Francisco Zoo, on July 4, 1971. She’ll be turning 45 years old this year! Her full name is Hanabiko; which means “fireworks child,” in Japanese. Though she’s more popularly known by her nickname, Koko.

Koko has lived at The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California for most of her life. She has her own trailer that is specially equipped for her needs. She also has two outdoor play areas. When it comes time to sleep, gorillas build nests out of leaves and other plants. Koko makes hers out of soft blankets and stuffed animals. I’m pretty sure I could sleep in a nest like that.


One of the things that has made Koko so famous, is her amazing ability to communicate with humans through the use of sign language. Koko’s trainer, Francine Patterson (better known as Penny) has been teaching her a modified version of sign language since she was one year old. She has also been verbally exposed to the English language, since a very young age.

As a result, Koko can understand over 1,000 signs of her “gorilla sign language” and around 2,000 spoken words, in English. She understands these things at the level of a young child. Koko’s trainer, Penny, has also been teaching Koko how to read. She’s shown that she can recognize symbols and is working on identifying words.

After she was educated about climate change and the general state our planet is in environmentally, Koko had something to say about it and she wanted to share her message with the world. This video was her reaction to what she had learned. I think Koko’s message is on point and accurate. If a gorilla can understand that the earth is worth saving, then what is stopping us humans from catching on?


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Julie Antonson

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