Dead at 46: Koko, world’s most famous sign language fluent gorilla, is gone

Koko knew rock stars.

Koko with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Gorilla Foundation

And movie stars.

Koko with the late Robin Williams. The Gorilla Foundation

She treated them no differently than she did her brood of kittens and cats — with love and respect.

Koko with one of her many kittens. The Gorilla Foundation

She had a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words in sign language.

She was an artist, author and magazine cover girl.

She was also an ambassador to the planet, asking us to protect it.

Koko makes a plea at the 2016 international climate conference. The Gorilla Foundation

Born at the San Francisco Zoo on July 4, 1971, Koko lived her life around people.

The western lowland gorilla was named Hanabi-ko, which is Japanese for “Fireworks Child.”

Koko won hearts around the world. But she also made us think.

Koko at her home. The Gorilla Foundation.

The Gorilla Foundation announced her passing early Thursday morning. She died in her sleep.

“Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy. She was beloved and will be deeply missed,” the foundation said in a statement.

Koko was 46.

She was Earth’s true rock star.

The tributes are already pouring in.

“The foundation will continue to honor Koko’s legacy and advance our mission with ongoing projects including conservation efforts in Africa, the great ape sanctuary on Maui, and a sign language application featuring Koko for the benefit of both gorillas and children,” the Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.

RIP Koko.

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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