Koko, the Gorilla Who Knew Sign Language, Dies at 46

Koko the Gorilla - Photofest - H 2018

Celebrities bid farewell to the well-known ape.

Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language and became something of a pop culture staple, has died, the Gorilla Foundation confirmed.

She was 46. Koko died in her sleep Wedneday in Woodside, Calif. 

"Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy. She was beloved and will be deeply missed," reads a statement from the Gorilla Foundation. "Koko’s capacity for language and empathy has opened the minds and hearts of millions." 

From being referenced on Seinfeld to hanging out with Betty White, William Shatner, Robin Williams, Mr. Rogers and more, Koko was a big deal. 

Koko was featured in multiple documentaries and appeared on the cover of National Geographic twice: the first cover, in October 1978, and then in January 1985.

"The foundation will continue to honor Koko’s legacy and advance our mission with ongoing projects including conservation efforts in Africa, the great ape sanctuary on Maui and a sign language application featuring Koko for the benefit of both gorillas and children," the Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.