We loved his acting and his sense of humour. Robin Williams was admired for his humility and talent as an actor. Everyone around him felt it, and when he first met Koko, the gorilla, he saw that it also applied to animals…
Koko was famous for learning a version of American Sign Language (ASL) and communicating with her handlers in a way few apes had before. Robin Williams was invited to meet her in 2001. And they clicked right away. Williams begins by talking about his gorilla encounter. It was a mind-blowing experience talking to a gorilla. “Koko.”
Koko was mourning the six-month-old death of her childhood playmate, Michael the gorilla. She hadn’t been keeping well until she met Williams.
In the video, Robin Williams is waiting for Koko to enter. When the gorilla enters, she grabs his hand. The actor gets up and sits beside her. They are seen laughing and chatting.
In the six months since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael died at the age of 27, Robin made Koko smile, according to Koko’s caregiver, Francine. Patterson, as reported by Today.
The actor made the gorilla feel at ease. Koko even tries on the actor’s glasses. The gorilla went through his pockets and wallet at one point.
Patterson praised Robin’s ability to “just ‘hang out with Koko, a gorilla, and quickly become one of her closest friends.”
“But Robin’s effect on Koko was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed.”
It’s heartwarming to see them interact. And so did the actor. Then we laughed together. A thousand words are used to express daily events, life, love and even death,” he said.
When Koko heard about Robin Williams’ death in 2014, she signed “cry.”
Born at the San Francisco Zoo, Koko spent most of her life at The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California.
According to her caregiver, Francine Patterson, Koko had a vocabulary of about 1,000 words of Gorilla Sign Language, a modified version of ASL.
She also understood 2,000 words of spoken English. Koko had the intelligence of a 3-year-old human child, according to Patterson, her trainer.
Koko was unique in many ways. The ape was known to show empathy for other animals, enjoy a good debate, and taunt and insult! Koko has made us, her human companions, aware not only that her breed is bright but that it shares sensibilities commonly held to be the prerogative of people, Patterson said.
On the cover of National Geographic’s 1978 magazine, Koko was photographed taking a selfie in front of a mirror.
C’est Koko who had the rarest ape pet. Koko had chosen a grey kitten and named her All-ball in the 1980s. “The cat was a Manx and shaped like a ball,” said foundation biologist Ron Cohn. “Koko likes to sign words.”
According to cheatsheeet, Koko raised All-ball as her own, and they played for an hour every day. That’s not all. She blamed the cat for ripping the sink off the wall. In one instance, Koko ripped a steel sink from a wall, pointed at All Ball, and signed “cat did it,” according to a Popular Science article on Koko.
The image of Koko cradling the kitten is one of the most striking images of two animals bonding.