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Koko the gorilla had not laughed for 6 months — until she met Robin Williams who left her in splits

Koko who died in 2018 was the most intelligent gorilla who knew 1,000 signs to communicate. She reportedly mourned the death of Williams when he died in 2014.

Koko the gorilla had not laughed for 6 months — until she met Robin Williams who left her in splits
Image Source: YouTube/Jan Turner

During his lifetime, Robin Williams made scores of people laugh with his comedy in standup acts and movies. He was so good at what he did that he could even make animals laugh. In 2001, he visited Koko, the late female gorilla who was famous for knowing a 1000 signs. She had not smiled for the past six months since her childhood companion named Micheal had passed away at the age of 27. Enter Williams who visited her at the  Gorilla Foundation in California. Williams spent time with Koko just bonding and cheering her up. A video of the interaction released by the foundation shows Koko smiling for the first time since the death of Micheal and connecting with Williams. Speaking about the interaction with Koko, Williams said it was an "unforgettable" experience. Koko died in her sleep in 2018 at the prime age of 46 years. 



The video shows Williams sitting in a chair as Koko walks in. She then takes his hand and pulls it in what seemed like a signal for him to sit on the floor with her. The heartwarming video shows Koko signaling Williams for tickles throughout the interaction. Williams readily obliges her whether it be in her arms, stomach, or thighs. Many times in the video Williams breaks into splits as he is pulled and hugged by the gorilla. Koko herself is seen smiling a lot. One of the most hilarious parts in the video was when Koko takes off Williams's spectacles and tries it on herself. She then goes inside her pen with the spectacles as she rummages through her things and looks out of the window. Williams is seen acknowledging this in the video and sharing his fascination with Koko with other members of the foundation.



Another time, she even takes out Williams's wallet and starts taking out things from it. One of the workers hilariously comments that she wanted to know if Williams had the right ID. Towards the end of the interaction, Williams and Koko lovingly embrace each other and Koko even kisses his hand. According to Today, Williams spoke in the video and said, "I recently had a mind-altering experience communicating with a gorilla,” Williams said in the video. “We shared something extraordinary: Laughter. Koko understands spoken English and uses over 1,000 signs to share her feelings and thoughts about daily events, life, love, even death. It was awesome and unforgettable.” The bond between Williams and Koko was so deep that when Koko found out about William's death in 2014, she was in sorrow. 




According to Dr. Penny Patterson, Koko's former mentor and surrogate mother. She said she was talking on the phone about Williams’ death and Koko overheard it. “She became extremely sad.” Speaking about the time when Williams cheered up the animal over a decade before his death, Patterson said, "Robin’s ability to just ‘hang out’ with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable." Commending Williams on his ability to cheer up even an animal and bring laughter to Koko, Patterson added, “Notice that Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over six months, ever since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael, passed away at the age of 27.”



Patterson said that the feeling of gratitude and happiness between Williams and Koko during the 2001 interaction was mutual. She added, “But not only did Robin cheer up Koko, but the effect also was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed.” Koko was the subject of several documentaries over her lifetime reports Variety. She also appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1978 stunning the world with her intelligence and the ability to pick up sign language from her mentor and psychologist, Patterson, who was working on a language project.  

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