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The Gorilla Foundation on Thursday announced that world-famous Koko the gorilla passed away in her sleep overnight at the age of 46.

Koko the gorilla is perhaps best known for her uncanny ability with American sign language. At an early age, the primate demonstrated the ability to sign more 1000 words and understand as many as 2000 words. She was also a natural celebrity with a charming personality all her own.

She made friends with Robin Williams, more than one kitty, and even Mr. Rogers himself. In fact, when Koko originally met her TV idol, she reportedly tried to repeat the move she’d seen him do so many times on screen. Koko tried to take his shoes off.

Koko the gorilla’s immense celebrity allowed her primary trainer, Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson, to launch the Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that “dedicated to the preservation, protection and well-being of gorillas and other great apes through interspecies communication research and education.”

Over the course of her illustrious forty-plus-year career, Koko helped spread a message of conservation across the planet. She appeared on the cover of National Geographic twice. The magazine even used a picture that Koko had taken for the first cover in 1978.

Through her good will, her lovable playfulness, and her affinity for kittens of all shapes and sizes, Koko the gorilla left a legacy that not even Benji himself could stand up to.

She will be missed.


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