Koko and her Kitten

Koko - Gorilla - California, U.S.A. communication pioneer..

- My Heroine - (see set)


Koko's first kitten was orange and tail-less and Koko named it "All Ball." She also signed, "Soft good cat cat."


I guess Koko cannot really be called a 'woman,' but she is female and one of the most important teachers living. Penny Patterson (photo follows) has been living with her for decades and taught Koko sign language, which is usually learned by the deaf. Koko knows and uses more than 1,000 signs. . In this way Koko has let us into the mind and heart of what most people think of as a very large beast. Koko's mind is wise, and sharply humorous. Her heart is huge and tender.


I've learned a lot from Koko, from articles and her books (there are books of her words!). I will never forget long ago when I first read that a writer who had come and had a little interview with Koko asked her if she thought she was an person or an animal. Koko signed, "Me some fine animal."


I think the quote of Koko's which comes to me most often is the one which, like All Ball's name, showed that poetic imagery is also an animal instinct. Koko was angry at her playmate and called him, signing fast with her fingers, "Bad dirty toilet!"


Wonderous things can be seen here at Koko's site. The best place to spend half a day or more when you are lazy or sick in bed. It's fabulous !


Intro page koko.org/friends/#

whole thing




Laurie York, Renee and 10 more people faved this
  • Laurie York 7y

    Isn't this the most magnificent photo? The tenderness of that gentle giant. I love that Koko referred to her kitten as "All Ball"...such an unforgettably tender name... Yes, Koko deserves to be a part of your heroine tribute, I think!
  • Caroline 7y

    What a wonderful picture and description. Hugely touching. I think so many of our finest emotions are based in animal instincts. This tenderness is very moving.
  • Eelco 7y

    You make me smile with this dedication. Like you do many times.
  • Renee 7y

    I am awestruck with this image...! Your dedication to your heroines is an inspiration to the rest of us...
    Animals can be capable of showing no prejudice or boundaries when it comes to love and companionship...! People should take a page from their book...

    Seen in my contacts' photos. (?)
  • Suzanne Smith 7y

    When I was working on my Master's, I took a course in animal communication, and they had disputed whether animals like Koko really communicated or just followed prompts. The argument was that they didn't create words...Penny, her trainer, came in to her every day, and one day, after Penny, in her personal life, had become engaged, Koko looked at Penny's new ring, and signed "bracelet on the finger." She knew the word for bracelet, and created the new word for something she didn't know. Now, if that isn't communication, I don't know what is. ;))
  • ZGrmy~so is the snow over? 7y

    this story is phenomenal !!! This photo (as they say) is worth a thousand words. Thanks for sharing

    Seen in Voices in the Wilderness Discussion Honoring gorillas
  • Caroline 5y

    ....and what an amazing image to have in the group. Thank you so much Karin for looking out all these gems....
  • Belinda 5y

    I have always loved Koko's story, and this is such a loving lovely photo...
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Uploaded on February 2, 2008
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