Koko, the gorilla famous for learning sign language, has died

Koko, the gorilla famous for learning sign language, has died

Koko, a western lowland gorilla said to have mastered American Sign Language, has died aged 46, the California institute which studied her said on Thursday. Sadly, the world-famous gorilla has passed away at the age of 46, at her home at The Gorilla Foundation in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Koko was born Hanabi-ko (Japanese for "Fireworks Child") on July 4, 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo.

If you were a kid in the '90s, you wanted to do three things: go to Space Camp, complete the Temple Run on Legends of the Hidden Temple, and meet Koko, the sign language gorilla.

That same year, Schroeder filmed her for the feature docu "Koko: A Talking Gorilla", which played in Un Certain Regard in Cannes. Koko exhibited another one of her talents on the 1978 National Geographic cover, which featured a photo of her that she had taken in the mirror.

Koko's mastery of sign language allowed her to connect with other living beings on a deeper level, as witnessed through her adorable bond with kittens and her ability to grieve and feel loss. In 1976, she founded The Gorilla Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to protecting gorillas. She was said to enjoy many TV shows and movies, including "Golden Girls" and "Pretty Woman".

Koko was also famous for her incredible maternal instincts, and on her 44th birthday she was granted her ultimate wish when she adopted two kittens.

She was widely promoted through appearances and the release of a picture book about her and a kitten that lived with her.

She was even able to meet now deceased actor and comedian Robin Williams, who played with the gorilla on a visit to her enclosure. She used signed language to name her paintings, and she was said to have understood some 2,000 words of spoken English.