Koko the Gorilla Dies at 46

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Koko, the thoughtful gorilla who captivated the world through her ability to use sign language and revealed an empathetic side to great apes, has died.

The Gorilla Foundation says she died in her sleep at the organization's preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California.

Koko was born Hanabi-ko (Japanese for "Fireworks Child") on July 4, 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo.

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Koko, the beloved gorilla that learned to communicate with humans and then stole their hearts, has died. Koko was the subject of several other documentaries, including 2016's "Koko: The Gorilla Who Talks to People".

Koko appeared on the cover of her first National Geographic in 1978 and featured a picture she had taken of herself in the mirror.

"Betty met Koko in 2004 and became best friends nearly immediately", says the description of their meeting on The Gorilla Foundation's website.

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The Gorilla Foundation announced on Twitter that it was "sad to announce the passing of our beloved Koko". In 1976, she founded The Gorilla Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to protecting gorillas.

She hung out with Williams in 2001, and when her caretakers informed her of his 2014 death, she seemed to be visibly upset. The second, in January 1985, included the story of Koko and a kitten, All Ball, that lived with her. Patterson's book Koko's Kitten followed the magazine article's publication. She was said to enjoy many TV shows and movies, including "Golden Girls" and "Pretty Woman". Dr. Patterson explained that 'we have lost a dear friend, Robin Williams.' Koko was quiet and looked very thoughtful. MORE: Watch Koko the gorilla rock out on the guitar She was an icon for inter-species communication and empathy.

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