Koko was an incredible icon for the animal world. She will be missed.

The lowland gorilla who wowed scientists and the public alike with her mastery of sign language passed away on June 21 at age 46.

From the time of her birth, Koko was an instant animal celebrity. She was on the cover of National Geographic twice and became a symbol for those working to improve our understanding of animals and how we treat them.


In her later years, Koko stayed in the spotlight. As recently as 2016, she was making Instagram videos with the band The Red Hot Chili Peppers and even learning how to play the bass guitar with the band's musician Flea.

[rebelmouse-image 19346916 dam="1" original_size="1024x568" caption="Image via FolsomNatural/Flickr." expand=1]Image via FolsomNatural/Flickr.

"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," the Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.

Koko's groundbreaking communication skills created invaluable bridges in the relationship between humans and animals.

Koko was best known for learning sign language. Dr. Francine Patterson famously taught a young Koko some simple words and phrases that helped launch a larger program at Stanford University in 1974.

Koko eventually learned to understand an estimated 2,000 English words and learned to sign 1,000 of her own. Patterson stayed with Koko for her entire life, and their relationship was chronicled in a 2016 documentary.

Koko famously had relationships with other human celebrities like Robin Williams — something he called "a mind altering experience." Williams and Koko become close over the years, and after Williams' death, Koko became visibly emotional when she was given the news he had died.

In a viral video that surfaced around the time of his passing, Koko and Williams are seen playing games with each other, and she even recognizes his face on the cover of a VHS tape of one of his movies.

Another favorite celebrity of Koko's was the inimitable Mister Rogers, who she shared some lovely moments with.

And while Koko was in many ways "adopted" by our collective culture, she mimicked human behavior in her own ways, famously asking for a pet kitten for Christmas in 1984. Her caretakers gave her a stuffed animal, but she held out for the real thing. She finally got her pet kitten a year later. She hilariously signed "obnoxious cat" when it playfully bit her.

Her life is a reminder that how we care for and learn from our fellow creatures is an evolving process.

Koko was an animal icon, but she was also more than that. Her contributions to science, communication, and understanding of the animal kingdom has been profound.

She had equally lasting effect on average people as well, creating empathy and compassion for creatures that were often portrayed as threatening. Her legacy is part of a larger relationship between humans and nature that is gradually improving as we educate ourselves about the amazing world that surrounds us.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

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