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Koko, the western lowland gorilla who signed her way into people's hearts, died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 46.
Arguably the most well-known gorilla in captivity, Koko died yesterday morning (June 20), according to a statement issued by The Gorilla Foundation (TGF), the nonprofit gorilla conservation organization responsible for her care.
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Koko - Lives - Millions - Ambassador - Gorillas
"Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy," TGF representatives said in the statement. "She was beloved and will be deeply missed."
Her visibility helped to highlight the plight of threatened great apes in the wild. Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) represent one of two subspecies of Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), and though they are a protected species, they are still vulnerable to poaching and habitat destruction from human activity, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reported. In fact, conservation scientists warn that if current threats to western lowland gorillas continue unchecked, half their populations could vanish by 2040.
Koko - San - Francisco - Zoo - July
Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo on July 4, 1971, and when she was only 1 year old she was introduced to Francine "Penny" Patterson, now the president and director of research at TGF. Patterson, who was then a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at Stanford University in...
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