The veteran actor met Koko the Gorilla in 2004, and the two shared a few hours of laughter, fun, and formed a friendship.
Robin Williams was ever the funny man. He made us laugh with his antics in his movies and we fell in love with his humor. Besides being a great actor, he was also a great human being, revered for his humility. On the receiving end of his personality was Koko, the gorilla - the same ape which could converse and explain what she was feeling through sign language. Koko was highly popular back when people initially found out that she could communicate using American Sign Language for being one of the few apes that could talk to their handlers. In 2001, Williams was invited to meet her at a time she was going through a tough time of her own, bereaving the death of her friend, reports Today.
The video posted on the channel called kokoflix shows Williams and Koko hit it off almost instantly. The clip begins with the actor narrating the interaction he's had with the animal. "I recently had a mind-altering experience communicating with a gorilla. Her name is Koko." When the meeting was arranged Koko was in a rough state after having lost her childhood playmate, Michael the gorilla, who had passed away six months prior. According to her caretaker, she reportedly hadn't been feeling particularly well, until the meeting with Williams.
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We see Williams sitting in a chair waiting for Koko to arrive. When she enters the room, we see her sit comfortably next to him on the floor and grab his hand. He accommodates her by leaving his chair for the floor and sits next to her. In the moments that follow, we see Koko ask to be tickled, first on her tummy, then on her thighs, and the two continue to share laughter tickling each other. Francine Patterson, Koko's caregiver, and the person who taught her sign language said the gorilla hadn't smiled a whole lot in a while. "Notice that Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over six months, ever since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael, passed away at the age of 27," Patterson told Today.
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The two seem pretty comfortable with each other with Koko even grabbing William's glasses to see to try them out and see what the fuss was all about. The ape proceeds to go to a nearby window to check if the glasses are of any help. She then playfully pick through his pockets and checks the contents of his wallet before asking for a drink. “Robin’s ability to just ‘hang out’ with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable,” Patterson wrote. “But not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed.”
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Another instance from the video sees Patterson pick out a VHS tape of one of Williams' movies, which Koko appears to scan the wallpaper briefly before recognizing it was indeed the actor's picture on it. The interaction between the two shows it's not hard for humans to communicate effectively with our long-lost cousins. In the video, Williams said: "We shared something extraordinary - laughter. Koko understands spoken English and uses over a 1,000 signs to share her feelings and thoughts about daily events, life, love, even death." When Koko was told about Williams' death in 2014, she reportedly made the "cry" sign indicating that she was sad. According to Patterson, Koko could understand over 2,000 words of spoken English and her intelligence was the same as a three-year-old human child. "Through mastery of sign language—the familiar hand speech of the deaf—Koko has made us, her human companions, aware not only that her breed is bright, but also that it shares sensitivities commonly held to be the prerogative of people," Patterson said. Koko died on June 19, 2018, in Woodside, California after 47 years.