Betty White mourns the loss of friend, Koko: 'I treasure every minute we spent together'

Manuela Cardiga
Jun 22, 2018
06:41 P.M.
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Betty White shares her memories of her sweet friend Koko


In 1978 the world met Koko, a female gorilla who had learned how to 'speak' American Sign Language. Forty years later, Koko's many friends mourn her passing at the age of 46.

The Gorilla Foundation announced that the lowland gorilla died in her sleep in the preserve in California's Santa Cruz Mountains on the 19th of June 2018.

Koko was taught sign language at the San Francisco Zoo by animal psychologist Dr. Francine Patterson, who was working on a language project. A documentary detailing Patterson's work  “Koko: A Talking Gorilla,” was made and shown at the Film Festival in Cannes.

She became an overnight sensation, and like any celebrity, got to meet and mingle with other celebrities. One of these was the actress Betty White, who met Koko in 2004 when she joined the board of directors of the Gorilla Foundation where Koko lived. 


“We shared something extraordinary — laughter. Koko understands spoken English and uses over a thousand signs to share her feelings and thoughts about daily events — life, love, even death. It was awesome and unforgettable.”

Robin Williams, Fox News, 19th of June 2018.

White, 96, posted a note to her Twitter account sharing a photo of the gorilla captioned with a sweet goodbye: “I treasure every minute we spent together #koko.” 


Koko was a fan of White's and would watch episodes of the sitcom “Golden Girls,” in which the actress had a leading role.


Another friend was actor Robin Williams whom she met in 2001. Koko's caretakers say that Kok was distressed when they signed the news of Williams’ suicide to her. Williams had been charmed by Koko's obvious sense of humor, and she became very fond of the actor.


Koko's extraordinary ability to communicate revolutionized the way people saw primates and helped to motivate many to become involved in the protection of her endangered species.

Read more about Koko on our Twitter account @amomama_usa.