Wednesday Zen Moment: Koko the gorilla cradling kittens

We love Koko. We love seeing Koko cuddle kittens. And, once you watch this video, we think you’ll fall in love, too.

“You’ll want to watch this video of Koko falling in love with one kitten … and then another!” the Gorilla Foundation notes. “Koko’s maternal instincts turn on when she sees the kittens and cradles them in her arms.”

After years with dolls and plush toys, Koko got her first kitten in 1983, which she named All Ball. Koko was about 12 at the time, and she took to the role of mother with gusto. The story of her love for All Ball was made famous in the book Koko’s Kitten. But when All Ball tragically died – hit by a car – Koko mourned, like any mother would. But she went on to care for a series of kittens.

And, over the summer, staff at the non-profit granted Koko’s birthday wish (she was born at the San Francisco Zoo on July 4, 1971) and was introduced to not just one, but a boatload of kittens. A video of the interaction was just uploaded to YouTube Tuesday.

“Koko fell in love with one, and the other fell in love with her. Koko has adopted these two kittens into her family, and it has energized her world,” the foundation says.


Koko, who already has a 1,000 word sign language vocabulary, is using more signs with her caregivers. This interspecies interaction is now helping folks at the foundation design ways to create empathy for great apes.

“This can have significant benefits to both endangered free-living great apes and those in captive environments, by encouraging the development of 2-way communication with their caregivers (which Koko has had since she was a baby).”


The foundation is now considering a multimedia sequel to Koko’s Kitten. We can’t wait for it.

Photos kokoflix/YouTube

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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