Yes, you read that right, and no, it’s not some LOL CHEESE XD IM SOOOO RANDOMB GUYS type of joke. Koko is a gorilla that has apparently learned to communicate with humans through sign language, and not only that, but she is able to understand verbal speech, and sign back, or follow through with requests.
She was born in San Francisco in 1971, and taught sign language throughout her life, and according to her trainer is able to sign 1,000 signs, based on American sign language, and understand 2,000 words in spoken English. The average [English speaking] human probably has well over 20,000 words in their vocabulary, but considering that this is a gorilla we’re talking about, if there is truth to it, the implications are incredible.
There’s the other side, though, that says that her actions are just the result of conditioning. Positive reinforcement, via the people around her rewarding her with small food treats for getting signs right. She does seem to use signing freely, though. And she also seems to put new things together herself, with the words she knows. However, I’ll let you decide.
Here is a documentary about her, from 1978, when she was only 8 years old
The remaining parts can be found on youtube. Just click on the bottom right of the video, and find the other parts from the related videos on the right.
Visit her website here.