Koko

Bio

When Penny Patterson, a young graduate student in psychology at Stanford, first saw a tiny, undernourished baby gorilla named Hanabi-Ko at the San Francisco Zoo, she had little inkling that the sickly ape would become her constant companion - and the subject of the longest continuous experiment ever undertaken to teach language to another species. But within a year, Project Koko was underway, and in two weeks the gorilla was using correct signed gestures for food, drink, and more. Today, four decades later, Koko has a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words.

Meet Koko (video)

Profile

Full Name:

Hanabi-Ko  (aka Koko)

Translation:

"Fireworks Child" (Japanese)

Hair Color:

Black to Dark Brown

Eye Color:

Dark Brown

Height:

5'3/4"

Weight:

280 pounds

Birthdate:

July 4, 1971

Place of Birth:

San Francisco, CA

Vocabulary:

Uses over 1,000 signs (understands over 2,000 words of spoken English)

Favorite Color:

Red

Favorite Foods:

Nuts, gourmet tofu dishes, apples, corn-on-the-cob

Favorite Shows:

"Wild Kingdom"

Favorite Movie:

"Free Willy", "Maid in Manhattan," "Pretty Woman," "Doctor Doolittle" (Eddy Murphy)

Favorite Toy:

Rubber Alligators

Favorite Book:

"The Three Little Kittens"

Favorite Activities:

Playing with dolls, playing chase, drawing, writing, mothering

Original
Family Members:

Father: "Bwana"
Mother: "Jacqueline"
Brothers: "Sunshine" "Mkubwa"
plus nieces and nephews in zoos all over the U.S.


 

For more info, photos and videos about Koko, see:

KokoPix
KokoFlix
Project Koko

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About the Gorilla Foundation
Mission
To bring interspecies communication to the public, in order to save gorillas from extinction, and inspire our children to create a sustainable future for all great apes.
Motto
Conservation through Communication
Corporate Profile
The Gorilla Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 corporation dedicated to the preservation, protection and well-being of gorillas through interspecies communication research and education. The foundation was established in 1976 and is best known for it's groundbreaking work with two western lowland gorillas, Koko and MIchael, who were taught to become fluent in American Sign Language. The results are published in numerous research papers, books and videos that can be found in our Bibliography.
Our current goals include: a) establishing the Maui Ape Preserve, b) helping Koko to have a baby, with her new mate, Ndume, and thus foster cultural transmission of a human-taught language to a new generation of gorillas, c) providing and modeling the best care for gorillas in captivity, and d) developing multimedia and web-based educational resources for partner institutions, schools and advocates to help convert our knowledge base into practical conservation, legal rights and captive care achievements for great apes. (See for example the ZEST — Zoo Enrichment Signing Tutorial program.)
The work of the Foundation is underwritten by donations from individuals, grants from foundations and corporations, and educational product sales. The Foundation receives no support from government sources.

Who is Koko?
When Penny Patterson, a young graduate student in psychology at Stanford, first saw a tiny, undernourished baby gorilla named Hanabi-Ko at the San Francisco Zoo, she had little inkling that the sickly ape would become her constant companion - and the subject of the longest continuous experiment ever undertaken to teach language to another species. But within a year, Project Koko was underway, and in two weeks the gorilla was using correct signed gestures for food, drink, and more. Today, more than 25 years later, Koko - the world's most renowned gorilla - is drawing on a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words.

Who is Penny?
Dr. Penny Patterson received a degree in Psychology at the University of Illinois and her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Stanford. She is now President and Research Director of The Gorilla Foundation/Koko.org, a member of the Board of Consultants at the Center for Cross Cultural Communication in Washington, D.C., and is the Editor-in-Chief of Gorilla, the journal of The Gorilla Foundation/Koko.org.
Note: Psychology runs in the Patterson family: Penny's father, Dr. C.H. Patterson, who has been a key supporter and source of inspiration for Penny and TGF, is also a world-renowned professor and author in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy - see his insightful website.

 

Contact Us

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The Gorilla Foundation / Koko.org
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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