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Koko: The Gorilla Who Talks to People

Documentary telling the extraordinary story of Koko, the only 'talking' gorilla in the world, and her lifelong relationship with Penny Patterson, who taught her to communicate.

Documentary telling the extraordinary story of Koko, the only 'talking' gorilla in the world, and her lifelong relationship with Penny Patterson.

Project Koko started as a PhD project to teach sign language to a baby gorilla, but as Koko began to communicate with Penny, an intense bond formed between them. Penny has now been with Koko for over 40 years and claims Koko can reveal fresh insights into the workings of an animal's mind.

Koko's unique life with Penny has been filmed every step of the way. Over 2,000 hours of footage chart the most dramatic moments - Penny's battle to keep Koko from being taken back to the zoo in which she was born, Penny's clash with academic critics who doubted her claims and the image of Koko mourning the death of her kitten. Penny believes that Koko has moved beyond simple language to express complex emotions - such as a longing for a baby gorilla of her own, and that the empathy she evokes in people changes their attitudes to all animals.

This film explores what we can really learn from this extraordinary science experiment turned love affair. Does it tell us more about animal emotions or our own?

58 minutes

Last on

Sat 23 Jun 2018 19:00

Credits

Role Contributor
Narrator Bertie Carvel
Camera Operator Jonathan Taylor
Director Jonathan Taylor

Broadcasts

  • Wed 15 Jun 2016 20:30
  • Sun 19 Jun 2016 16:15
  • Tue 28 Jun 2016 02:40
  • Tue 28 Jun 2016 03:25
  • Wed 31 May 2017 21:00
  • Sat 23 Jun 2018 19:00

Want more Koko? Join in the conversation with #TalkingGorilla

Want more Koko? Join in the conversation with #TalkingGorilla

Koko will appear on Twitter to test you on your gorilla sign language skills!

Gallery