Science and Nature

Koko - The Gorilla Who Talks

In 1971, Penny Patterson, a graduate student at Stanford University, met Koko, a new-born gorilla in San Francisco Zoo. Penny had grown up wanting to communicate with animals and decided to teach Koko sign language in the hope of finally crossing the boundary between animals and humans.

Koko - The Gorilla Who Talks

54m 51s

In 1971 Penny Patterson began teaching sign language to a gorilla named Koko, unaware that this relationship would define both their lives. Over 40 years on, now internationally famous, Koko continues to redraw the line between people and animals.

Episodes

  • Koko - The Gorilla Who Talks: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Koko - The Gorilla Who Talks

    54m 51s

    In 1971 Penny Patterson began teaching sign language to a gorilla named Koko, unaware that this relationship would define both their lives. Over 40 years on, now internationally famous, Koko continues to redraw the line between people and animals.

Extras + Features

  • Meet Koko: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Meet Koko

    2m 5s

    In this introduction to the film we meet Koko the world famous gorilla who has spent her life signing to scientist Penny Patterson. We get an overview of Koko’s life with Penny and learn the significance Koko’s life has had for our relationship with animals.

  • Early Days with Koko: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Early Days with Koko

    3m 5s

    In this clip we see how Penny began to work with Koko, and how Koko learned her first early signs and began to combine them. We get a sense of the wonder at the breakthrough that was taking place, and see the relationship with Penny develop and grow.

  • The Move to Stanford: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Move to Stanford

    3m 15s

    Penny moved Koko from San Francisco Zoo to Stanford, where their communication work began in earnest. Here Koko became much more adept at signing, learning many new words and combining them proficiently. These were exciting times, and Koko also had some days of freedom, roaming on a nearby ranch.

  • Battle for Koko: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Battle for Koko

    2m 24s

    Although Penny and Koko were now deeply bonded, Koko still belonged to San Francisco Zoo, who asked for Koko back to participate in their breeding program. Penny was driven into battle with the zoo.

  • Facing Critics: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Facing Critics

    3m 20s

    Although Penny was sure that Koko was communicating with her, another ape language specialist, Herb Terrace, became convinced that the whole field was flawed, and published a study to suggest that apes did not know what they were saying, a blow to Penny and other scientists working in the field.

  • Koko's Kitten: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Koko's Kitten

    3m 2s

    Koko adopted a kitten called All Ball. When All Ball was hit by a car, Koko’s grief at the loss of her friend captured the imagination of the nation and prompted headlines around the whole world.

  • Preview: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Preview

    30s

    In 1971 Penny Patterson began teaching sign language to a gorilla named Koko, unaware that this relationship would define both their lives. Over 40 years on, now internationally famous, Koko continues to redraw the line between people and animals.

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