Gorilla Caregiver / Researcher

Lauren has been a longtime fan of Koko’s, like many other Bay Area natives, and has been following Koko’s story for most of her life. Lauren is from the heart of wine country in Sonoma County, and has a strong background in childhood education. After reading an article detailing the cultural practices of wild chimpanzees and bonobos in National Geographic, she sought to pursue the study of nonhuman primates in her college coursework.

Lauren graduated with her Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology from Sonoma State University and focused her studies on primatology research. During her undergraduate research she presented independent results on primates at three different undergraduate research conferences, which also appeared in an undergraduate research publication.

In order to better understand the need for further research to aid conservation efforts, Lauren participated in a field primatology course to study wild monkeys in the rainforest of Costa Rica.  she was also a student researcher at Sonoma State University's Primate Ethology Research Lab, where she conducted a year-long applied research project for the San Francisco Zoo. After graduating, Lauren taught young children the importance of animal conservation, as a zoo camp instructor at the San Francisco Zoo.

Lauren fully believes that the future of primate research requires interspecies communication, and believes captive nonhuman primates should be taught to communicate with the humans they encounter daily. Through mutual linguistic understanding, researchers can begin to understand the depth of nonhuman primate culture and behavior. Lauren believes Koko’s amazing capabilities are just a preview of the endless possibilities for gorilla and other great ape research, and demonstrates the importance of interspecies communication in primate research conservation and welfare, .

Lauren hopes to educate larger groups about the importance of conservation through communication during her work with The Gorilla Foundation, which features improved care through direct communication with the gorillas. She believes that only through further education based on communication with captive primates will conservation be effective long-term for wild populations.

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The Gorilla Foundation /
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

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Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.
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