To say we weren’t all shocked and saddened by the news of one of cinemas finest a few days ago, is an understatement. In many ways, I’ve avoided approaching the subject for my own well being. But I’ve just learned something incredibly touching – that a gorilla named Koko, who lives in a Gorilla Foundation in Northern California, was actually saddened by the passing of Robin Williams. Koko, who is proficient in American Sign Language and knows over 1000 signs, met Williams in 2001, when the actor came to visit the gorilla.
Take a moment to watch the interaction in the embedded video, and take note that according to the conservation group Koko hadn’t smiled in over 6 months (since her gorilla companion Michael passed away).
When the news broke of Robin’s passing, Dr. Penny Patterson let Koko know. About a half an hour later, Koko signed to Penny: ‘CRY LIP.'” She [Koko] reportedly then became very somber, her head bowed and her lips quivering.
“Koko and Robin’s encounter is a supreme example of how humans and gorillas can overcome interspecies boundaries and express the highest form of empathy — embracing differences,” wrote the Gorilla Foundation. “Robin’s ability to just ‘hang out’ with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable for Koko.”