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Talking with animals

March 14, 2008 | Comment icon 3 comments

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You've heard of the horse whisperer? Now they have the "dog whisperer" and even a "cat whisperer." Sure, it seems a little strange, people claiming the ability to talk to animals, but there must be a market for it. People take their pets to animal psychologists and pay big money for the "therapy." I guess there are a lot of people out there who would like to be able to communicate with animals. I know that I've thought about it a time or two. You might find it interesting to know that there is an animal out there that has developed the ability to communicate with us and even has her own website.

Her name is Koko; she is a western lowland gorilla. She currently has a working vocabulary of over 1,000 signs in GSL (Gorilla Sign Language) and can understand over 2,000 spoken words in English. It's not just her ability to understand spoken words that makes her truly remarkable; she can construct complex sentences and demonstrates an amazing understanding of complex concepts. Koko can talk to people! She has an IQ in the range of 75-90. That's only about ten points lower than the average human.

Koko received world-wide acclaim and notoriety when she made the cover of National Geographic Magazine in October of 1978. The cover shot is a photograph that Koko actually took of herself. Her fame continued when French filmmaker Barbet Schroeder made a movie about her called, "Koko: A Talking Gorilla."
Perhaps her greatest claim to fame was the second cover shot of National Geographic Magazine. This time Koko appeared holding her pet kitten. You heard that right; Koko the Gorilla had a pet of her own. The photograph of Koko and "All Ball" as the gorilla named her, took the world by surprise. Who would've thought that a large powerful gorilla could be so gentle with a tiny kitten?

A short time later, Koko's pet was tragically killed. The news was devastating to Koko. When she was told that All Ball had been killed she signed, "Bad…Frown…Sad." Later that day, when everyone had left, Koko wept. She mourned the loss of her little pet like many people would.

You may be wondering how the Yetihunter is going to tie this story into the subject of sasquatch research. Well, amazingly, I'm not! Good day.

The link to Koko's website:

Comments (3)

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Comment icon #1 Posted by IronGhost 16 years ago
Yetihunter has no need to tie the story to sasquatch -- it stands alone as a terrific story -- and well written. Thinking of a gorilla crying over the loss of a pet cat is strangely heart-wrenching. One of the big mysteries of the universe for me is how one species can develop so much love for another species. For example, I have two cats, and sometimes when I contemplate them, it makes me think: "This cat is basically a species of animal that likes to eat my species." Lions, tigers, sabertooth tigers have probably captured and killed and eaten millions of primates over the centuries. Yet, whe... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by Yetihunter 16 years ago
Thanks IronGhost! Koko really makes you wonder. She was able to communicate that she had a toothache. When they brought a vet into look at her, sure enough she needed some dental work! She also has had visits from many celebrities including Mr. Rogers who was the star of her favorite tv show. Can you imagine an animal with a favorite tv show?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Sweetsalem82103 16 years ago
Aww, I've always loved Koko. How long do gorillas live? I remember reading the book "Koko's Kitten" in elementary school. I think it would be truly amazing for her to have babies and to see if she passes on her sign language. . .then they, in turn, would pass it to theirs. . .that would be extremely awesome.

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