Koko, the Bay Area gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

"Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication", the Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.

'She was beloved and will be deeply missed'. Koko would've turned 47 on July 4.

Koko's legacy was something much larger than her home in the San Francisco Zoo.

An "extraordinary" gorilla that mastered sign language has died. Koko's vocabulary eventually doubled.

Patterson raised $12,500 to officially adopt Koko.

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In 2004, she met Betty White, who was on the board of directors of the Gorilla Foundation. Rest in Peace, Koko.

She was the subject of a number of documentaries, and appeared on the cover of National Geographic multiple times.

Koko was also famous for her love of kittens, and for expressing grief when her kitten Ball died.

Koko became an instant celebrity in her youth thanks to an early facility with American Sign Language.

Although she only met Robin Williams once in 2011, Koko mourned the late Oscar victor after he died in August 2014 by signing to Patterson, "CRY LIP".

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"It changed the image of apes, and gorillas in particular, for the better, such as through the children's book "Koko's Kitten" that may young people have grown up with".

Koko was among a handful of primates who could communicate using sign language; others included Washoe, a female chimpanzee in Washington state, and Chantek, a male orangutan in Atlanta.

"She became extremely sad", Patterson wrote on the foundation's website.

She was understood to have been able to understand more than 1,000 words and was able to understand some spoken word english.

Was Koko the only gorilla who knew sign language? The Gorilla Foundation said that Patterson told them Koko was "quiet and very thoughtful" when told of Williams' passing.

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