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Koko Love Good: Our 1986 Interview with Koko the Gorilla
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Koko Love Good: Our 1986 Interview with Koko the Gorilla

This article originally appeared in the December 1986 issue of playboy magazine. Koko is the most celebrated gorilla in the world, and for good reason. She is the first gorilla that can use a human language. Dr. Penny Patterson has been her teacher since Koko’s birth and is the director of the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California, where Koko now lives. Robert Crane interviewed Koko, with Dr. Patterson acting as interpreter. He reports, “Koko, 15 years old and 230 pounds, sat poised and ready in her open-air living area. She looked me in the eye and, using American Sign Language, commanded, ‘Show me your teeth,’ which I respectfully did. She was delighted by the enormous amount of gold and silver in my mouth. Her mate, Michael, 13 and 350 pounds, who shares quarters with her, never looked me in the eye—something to do with the fact that I was a stranger and a male. "Koko and Michael, who have an occasional spat, are, for the most part, nonaggressive. They are the…

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