The Touching Tale of Koko the Gorilla: How She Adopted Kittens Using Sign Language

Koko, the gorilla recognized worldwide for her mastery of a variation of American Sign Language, recently amazed everyone with her sweet love for babies, an emotion she usually shows through hand signs for ‘baby’ and playacting with her gorilla dolls.


Koko’s trainer, Francine Patterson, acknowledged her fondness for babies by introducing her to kittens on her 44th birthday.

In the touching encounter, Koko used sign language to express her adoption of the kittens, associating them with signs for ‘cat’ and ‘baby.’ The gentle giant even requested a kitten placed on her head.


The poignant scene unfolded as Koko, with hands large enough to dwarf the kittens, carefully reached out to the kittens, exhibiting immense care and sensitivity.

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Maternal instinct: Koko is filmed signing a ‘cat’ during the encounter. The gorilla’s maternal and play instincts have apparently ‘kicked in.’ Source: Daily Mail

Her first interaction was leisurely, allowing the kittens to adjust to her presence before she cradled a grey kitten and patted its belly affectionately.

Further into the story, we witness another kitten trying to wriggle out of a carrier bag, seeking Koko’s warmth. The heartwarming episode concludes with Koko signing that these kittens were her babies.


Alongside the video, it is shared that the bond between Koko and the kittens has blossomed into a joyful family setup.

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Communicating: This cradling motion is how Koko signifies the word baby, which she often signs, and carries her gorilla dolls the way gorilla mothers carry their babies. Source: Daily Mail

Patterson has reported that Koko comprehends over 1,000 signs, aptly referred to as ‘Gorilla Sign Language,’ and understands roughly 2,000 English words.

Koko’s adoption of the kittens has added a vibrant dynamic to her life, boosting her sign language interactions with her caregivers and creating a wealth of new content for The Gorilla Foundation.


The Foundation underlines the potential value of this content for enhancing empathy towards apes and promoting two-way communication between apes and caregivers.

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Birthday treat: In celebration of her 44th birthday, Koko, the gorilla’s trainer Francine Patterson, on behalf of The Gorilla Foundation, introduced her to some other babies – a litter of kittens. Above, Koko is captured on video scooping up a little grey kitten in her hand. Source: Daily Mail
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Adorable: Koko gestured for one of the cats to be placed on her head – and so it was. She later signed that the animals were her babies. Source: Daily Mail

Koko’s life, mostly spent at The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, includes companionship with two male gorillas.

However, attempts at mating or adding other female gorillas have yet to be successful. The Foundation’s website reveals her deep desire to have a baby.


Furthermore, Koko’s love for kittens dates back to 1984, when she used sign language to ask for a Christmas cat.

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Now a family: According to information provided alongside the video, which was posted to YouTube via the Kokoflix account, the gorilla and two of the kittens are now part of one happy family. Above, Koko snuggles up to the grey cat, which she is particularly attached to. Source: Daily Mail
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Taking a peek: Koko was presented with a cardboard box containing the kittens at the foundation’s base in Woodside, California. Source: Daily Mail
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Loving nature: The gorilla stroked the grey cat with her index finger before tucking it under her arm and giving it a cuddle. Source: Daily Mail

This ability and her control over her vocal and breathing behaviors contradict traditional beliefs about apes’ capabilities.

Researcher Marcus Perlman challenged the assumption of human uniqueness in speech abilities. His work at The Gorilla Foundation involved the study of Koko’s gestures and unique vocal behaviors.


Together with Nathaniel Clark of the University of California, Santa Cruz, they recorded instances of Koko performing nine different behaviors involving control over her vocalization and breathing, contradicting established theories.

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Special moment: According to Koko’s trainer, the special ape is able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls ‘Gorilla Sign Language.’ Above, staff at The Gorilla Foundation help the grey cat to brush Koko’s furry coat during the adorable meeting. Source: Daily Mail
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Close bond: Koko was exposed to spoken English from an early age and can apparently understand 2,000 words of the spoken language. Source: Daily Mail
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Tender: The grey cat is seen snuggling up to Koko, who does not have babies of her own but has previously signed she would like some. Source: Daily Mail

This groundbreaking evidence, including Koko’s diverse vocal behaviors like blowing a ‘raspberry’ for treats or mimicking phone conversations, suggests that human speech capability may not be as unique as previously thought.

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Wanting attention: Little kittens were filmed desperately trying to get out of an animal carrier bag in order to snuggle up to the great ape. Source: Daily Mail

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Canidae Pet Food Reviews: An In-Depth Look

Choosing the right pet food is crucial for the health and well-being of our furry friends. In this blog post, we'll delve deep into Canidae pet food, a popular choice among pet owners, and provide an in-depth review based on various sources.

Canidae is a well-known brand in the pet food industry, offering a range of products designed to cater to pets of all ages, breeds, and sizes.

Product Range:

  • Canidae All-Life Stages (Dry): This vet-formulated product suits dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. It's available in both dry and wet formulas.
  •  Canidae Pure: A limited-ingredient diet crafted for dogs with food sensitivities. Each recipe typically includes 7 to 10 ingredients.

Key Ingredients

The Canidae All Life Stages Multi Protein Formula, which represents the brand's product line, contains ingredients like chicken meal, turkey meal, brown rice, peas, oatmeal, and barley. Chicken meal, the primary ingredient, is a meat concentrate with nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

Recalls and Safety

Canidae has had recalls in the past. It's essential to stay updated with the brand's recall history to ensure your pet's safety.

Customer Reviews

The Canidae Dog Food product line has earned an overall rating of 4.5 stars from The Dog Food Advisor. The Canidae All Life Stages Dog Food has received the Advisor's second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

Pros and Cons:

  • Pros: High protein content, suitable for all life stages, contains beneficial ingredients like flaxseed and taurine.
  •  Cons: It contains some controversial ingredients, and not all minerals are chelated, which might affect absorption.


Canidae All Life Stages is a grain-inclusive dry dog food that uses a notable amount of named meat meals as its primary source of animal protein. With an above-average protein content and a profile suggesting a significant amount of meat, it comes highly recommended for pet owners.