Koko, the famous gorilla who spoke sign language, is dead
The primate, subject of many documentaries, was aged 46 years old. His vocabulary exceeded the 1000 words.
Koko, a captive-bred gorilla who has become world-famous for his sign language skills, died on Wednesday 20 June at 46 in California, the Gorilla Foundation announced, following the animal.
The primate, who was born on 4 July 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo, died "in his sleep," the foundation said in a statement.
"Koko's ability for language and empathy has opened the minds and hearts of millions of people," the foundation said, calling it "the icon of interspecies communication." "She was very loved and we will miss her deeply."
From 1972, a researcher and psychologist for animals, Francine Patterson, began to teach Koko sign language, before continuing her apprenticeship at Stanford University, where was established the foundation, dedicated to the study of gorillas in captivity .
Koko, who will gradually master more 1000 words, was then the subject of many reports that made his reputation. Starting with the cover of National Geographic, in October 1978, who showed her taking her picture by looking in a mirror.
Koko also became famous with her affection for her kitten, whom she had named "All Ball". A children's book, "Koko's kitten", has even been published. At the death of the cat, overturned by a car, Koko had displayed his grief for months.