Using sign language, Koko, a well known 230 pound gorilla, asked her sign language teacher, Penny Patterson, for a kitten as a companion for her birthday. The sign Koko used was drawing two of her fingers across her cheek signifying a cat’s whiskers.
The year was 1984 so this is not news by any stretch of the imagination but it is interesting. It is a story that actually touches on that sensitive topic of debate: evolution versus creationism. Darwin versus God. Because Koko really does behave like us.
Koko had indicated an interest in cats well before asking for one by preferring stories about cats that Jenny read to her.
Koko was given the opportunity of selecting a kitten from an abandoned litter. She selected a gray male kitten and called him “All Ball”.
Koko handled and treated her kitten as any decent human cat caretaker would and better than most! Koko was deeply saddened when All Ball was run over by a car and killed. Using sign language she told her human companions that she wanted to cry. When asked what had happened to her kitten she signed, “sleep cat” and “cry, sad, frown”.
There was only one thing to do, find another kitten for her. She adopted two, Lipstick and Smoky. One of them is in the picture above, I believe.
You can see the great delicacy with which Koko handles her kitten companions. This is a gorilla that is truly a cat lover. I don’t know how involved Koko was in looking after her kittens. I wonder if she cleaned the litter and feed them etc.. It would be nice if that was the case.