Koko the gorilla is best known for her use of sign language, but her love of cats is what made her a media darling.
In 1983, the western lowland gorilla reportedly told trainer Penny Patterson that she wanted a cat. Patterson and her fellow researchers at The Gorilla Foundation supported this idea, hoping that caring for a cat might prepare Koko for motherhood.
They gave Koko a lifelike stuffed animal and after she ignored that gift, she was given a gray kitten for her birthday in July 1984. Koko rejoiced. She named the cat All Ball and carried him around like a baby. All Ball got out of Koko's cage and was hit by a car just a few months later. Trainer Penny Patterson shared the news with Koko, who, Patterson said, began crying. “Sleep cat,” she reportedly signed.
Koko turned 44 in 2015. And for her birthday, Patterson let her pick out two new pets from a litter of kittens. The result, which Koko's caretakers posted just this week, was as cute as you might expect.
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