In case you don’t know, like I didn’t know, here’s how you sign “sad” in ASL. Or if you can’t watch that video and want to show the proper emotion for the death of a gold-hearted icon, bawl your eyeballs out while doing an extra wall slide of pure, potent sadness. Because it is a sad day.
Koko, who became an international legend when she mastered sign language, died in her sleep on Tuesday morning at her home in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Woodside, CA. She was 46.
The Gorilla Foundation gave this statement about Koko’s death:
“Her impact has been profound and what she has taught us about the emotional capacity of gorillas and their cognitive abilities will continue to shape the world.”
Koko (born name: Hanabiko) was born at the San Francisco Zoo on the Fourth of July in 1971. They named her Hanabiko, because it means “fireworks child” in Japanese. Animal psychologist and Koko’s forever caretaker, Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson, started teaching her American Sign Language when she was 1 years old.
Koko eventually learned more than 1,000 words in sign language (including the most important one: the international sign for FUCK YOU) and could understand 2,000 words in spoken English. In other words, Koko knew English better than I do.
Very few beings can go through life without hurting a soul.
Koko was one of those rare ones and brought joy to so many. RIP Koko.