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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Real life meets the Planet of the Apes

The Gorilla Foundation conducts research in interspecies communication (language), cultural development, and intellectual and emotional awareness—treating gorillas as respected family members, for our mutual benefit. 

Koko has learned over 1000 signs. 
• She invents her own new compound signs, eg, "finger-bracelet" for ring. 
• Koko understands spoken English. 
• Koko is not unique: gorilla Michael was very articulate in ASL too. 
•Koko's use of grammatical aspects of sign language in complex phrases is evident. 
•This teaches us much about human language development/origns. 

Koko paints representationally and impressionistically. 
• She's painted many self-named works. 
• Gorilla Michael painted even more! 
• Their work has appeared in galleries and artists and critics are impressed with their use of color and technique. 

Koko (and other gorillas) appear to have the same emotions we have. 
• She can be happy, sad, jealous, frustrated, angry, willful, funny ... 
• Koko loves kittens and she still grieves for her first kitten, All Ball. 
• Her empathy for others has changed our perception of gorillas forever. 
• Gorillas clearly deserve basic personal rights such as protection

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