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The Gorilla Foundation was created in 1976 to pioneer interspecies communications between humans and gorillas. Project Koko has become the longest-running interspecies communication study in history and the only one involving gorillas. Our mission is “Conservation through Communication” — to apply interspecies communication to save gorillas from extinction, improve their lives in captivity, and enable humans to continue our dialogue with them for mutual benefit!
Koko has given
humanity the gift of
“talking with the animals”
for more than
four decades now.
It’s time for other gorillas to learn from Koko …
The Gorilla Foundation is about to digitize the entire 46-year Project Koko Research Archive, so that all of the data (videos, coded notes, art, etc.) is protected, preserved and shared with both other researchers and the general public. Collaborative archival, potentially with the help of AI, will be necessary for others to be able to build upon our work.
Learn to sign with Koko as your teacher. This app, which currently exists only as a prototype, will make it easy (and fun) for millions of people to learn basic American sign language (ASL) from Koko (and Penny) and help translate her many amazing videos. Gorilla caregivers will be able to use it to share care-related signs with their gorillas and possibly learn more of their many natural gestures. And conservation organizations will be able to use it to convert poachers to protectors.
We have 70 acres of leased tropical land in the hills of West Maui, and an adjacent 250 acres available for expansion. This land can be used to create the first natural gorilla sanctuary outside Africa. We have at least one prospective partner with gorillas in need of such a home. Together, we can pioneer the first “interactive gorilla sanctuary” featuring non-disruptive interactive video, interspecies communication between gorillas and their caregivers, and a new model of gorilla personhood zoos could adopt to improve captive care and advance conservation.
Koko passed away in her sleep on June 18, 2018 just 2 weeks before her 47th birthday on July 4th. She lived a full and loving life, and has been mourned by millions of people around the world — a process that continues to this day.
She taught us so much about herself, her species, and about ourselves — how humans can be more humane. And the lessons we’ve learned from Koko must never be forgotten — primarily that the conservation of our fellow great ape species can be achieved through good communication — interspecies communication!
Please help us realize the full potential of Koko’s Legacy by supporting the above projects, and transmitting the lessons of “Project Koko” — the longest running interspecies communication study in history, and the only one involving gorillas — to ALL great apes, both captive and free-living. They all have both the capacity and the right to communicate with us, and if we listen to them, we can both improve their lives in captivity and save them from man-made extinction in the wild.
We have finally learned to “talk with the animals.” What will our children think of us if we forget how to continue the dialogue? The truth is that all gorillas are Kokos — scientists have observed gorillas using dozens of natural gestures — which means that any gorilla currently living in captivity, at a zoo or sanctuary, can become a gorilla ambassador (i.e., a spokesperson) like Koko, if we just give them the opportunity. And if we let gorillas be all they can be, our empathy for them will grow proportionately, and gorilla conservation will become an integral part of human conservation. And that’s why The Gorilla Foundation exists.
5th grade teacher
“When we think of saving the Earth, we can't help but think of Koko!"
“Koko is one smart great ape”