“In 1971, Penny Patterson, a graduate student at Stanford University, met Koko, a newborn gorilla in San Francisco Zoo. Penny had grown up wanting to communicate with animals and decided to teach Koko sign language in the hope of finally crossing the boundary between animals and humans. But what started out as a scientific experiment evolved into a love story, which, for almost half a century, has challenged the way we think about animals and changed the course of many lives.

After 44 years, Project Koko is the world’s longest ape-language study and according to Penny, the most successful, with Koko mastering hundreds of signs.”

Early evidence of Koko’s grasp of language was her ability to verbalize concepts.  One of my all-time favorites is the sobriquet “toilet devil“.

I suppose that I could go on and on about language, consciousness and humanity, but I’d rather just note that the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is airing the series.


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