When Koko the Gorilla Chatted Online

Koko the gorilla


Susan Poulton

I woke up this morning and learned that Koko the gorilla had passed away peacefully in her sleep last night at the age of 46. Twenty years ago, I had the honor of producing the first ever inter-species online “live chat” with Koko and her caregiver Dr. Penny Patterson, part of a series of internet firsts we achieved at AOL (America Online).

When we announced the event, we were a global sensation. What would the gorilla say? Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, David Letterman, Howard Stern—newscasters and comedians worldwide either celebrated or panned the event, with coverage in over 60 world newspapers.

Koko was already well known for bridging the communication divide between humans and great apes by learning sign language, and now she was going to answer questions from a global audience via this new medium. Or so we thought.

Like all of our live events back then, prior to webcams or streaming video, the event was conducted over the phone in a text-based chat room. We would pull questions from the online audience, ask them to Penny Patterson over the phone, she would sign them to Koko, Koko would sign back, and we would type the response. Easy, right? Good Morning America flew a crew in to film us conducting the interview, and after they set up we dialed the number, and everyone around the world waited to see what Koko would say first.

Jana Moncrief, our AOL Live associate producer, was the typist for this event. Her hands stood poised and ready to type Koko’s first response, as Penny lets her know that thousands of people are online and ready to talk to her. You can hear Koko’s heavy breathing as she moves around the room, huffing into the phone. Then comes her first word:


Long pause.

Sideways glances.

That’s when we knew that this event was not going to be as straightforward as we thought. What transpired in the next 30 minutes was a fascinating look into how Penny and Koko communicated, through phonetic or ‘sounds like’ terms, emotional words, interpretation, and trust.

The media had mixed reactions after the event, but one was a surprising supporter. Howard Stern said on his show the next day, even when presented with some amazing material from the transcript, “Eh, I was surprised the gorilla could say anything at all.” I think we all shared in that delight, and in our brief encounter with Koko helping her continue to make history.

Enjoy the full original transcript below, from the AOL Live archives and gorilla.org.

Image of a transcript of an online chat with Koko the gorilla.



This is the original transcript of the AOL Live internet chat with Koko the gorilla which took place on April 27th, 1998, at 7pm EDT in honor of the month long celebration of Earth Day. This event was the first ever live inter-species internet chat with Koko the gorilla. Brought to you courtesy of H.E.A.V.E.N. (Helping Educate, Activate, Volunteer and Empower via the Net), The Envirolink Network, The Gorilla Foundation, and AOL Live.

The Gorilla Foundation was founded in 1976, to promote the protection and preservation of gorillas. Project Koko, which began in 1972, is the primary focus of the foundation.

Host is the moderator of the chat on AOL, DrPPatrsn is Dr. Penny Patterson, Koko's friend and trainer, and LiveKOKO is Koko the gorilla.

Welcome, Dr. Patterson and Koko, we're so happy you're here!

DrPPatrsn: You're welcome!

DrPPatrsn: Let me explain [to Koko] what we're doing. We're going to be on the phone with a lot of people who are going to ask us questions...

LiveKOKO: Nipple.

DrPPatrsn: ...about you and about me. Lots of people.

LiveKOKO: That red pink.

DrPPatrsn: That red pink. Yes, right!

LiveKOKO: Hurry good.

Host: Is Koko aware that she's chatting with thousands of people now?

DrPPatrsn: I just explained it to her so she has some idea.

LiveKOKO: Hear.

DrPPatrsn: You want to hear? OK. Koko is ready.

Host: I'll start taking questions from the audience now, our first question is: MInyKitty asks, Koko are you going to have a baby in the future?

LiveKOKO: Pink this.

DrPPatrsn: We've had earlier discussion about colors today.

LiveKOKO: Koko-love eat ... sip.

Host: Me too!

DrPPatrsn: What about a baby? You going to have baby? She's just thinking...her hands are together...

LiveKOKO: Unattention

DrPPatrsn: She covered her face with her hands…which means it's not happening, basically, or it hasn't happened yet. . . I don't see it.

Host: That's sad!

DrPPatrsn: It is responding to the question. In other words, she hasn't had one yet, and she doesn't see a future here. The way the situation is actually with Koko & Ndume, she has 2 males to 1 female which is the reverse of what she needs. I think that is why she said that, because in our current situation, it isn't possible for her to have a baby. She needs several females and one male to have a family.

Host: Do you see that situation changing when you get the Gorilla preserve on Maui?

DrPPatrsn: Yes, we do.

DrPPatrsn: Koko just signed 'listen' and she wants to hear the phone so I'm going to hold it to her for a second. Did you hear them? (to Koko.)

LiveKOKO: Huff.

DrPPatrsn: She just made a vocalization. Did you hear that? That was her talking on the phone.

Host: Hi Koko! I can hear her! She breathed at me! This is so cool! In case you're curious, here's how Koko is able to participate in this chat: Dr. Penny Patterson is signing the questions to Koko from the online audience and a typist is entering for her.

DrPPatrsn: I'm working to create a family here in Woodside which would mean that we would need to add an additional female at a minimum. So I've been working with the zoo community to do that. And in Hawaii, we'll have much more space which means we will be in a much better situation to welcome additional gorillas to our family and then she's almost assured to have a family of her own.

Host: So she really is looking forward to this!

LiveKOKO: Purr.

DrPPatrsn: She's making happy sounds now.

Host: EFRN asks, Would Koko like to have a kitten, a dog, or another gorilla as a friend?

LiveKOKO: Dog.

DrPPatrsn: She actually has two dog friends right now one kitty and two gorillas.

Host: SBM87 asks, What are the names of your kittens? (and dogs?)

LiveKOKO: Foot.

DrPPatrsn: Foot isn't the name of your kitty

LiveKOKO: Hear lip.

DrPPatrsn:  She wants to hear the lady on the phone. Maybe you can ask her that question.

Host: Koko, what's the name of your cat?

LiveKOKO: Huff, no.

DrPPatrsn: She just gave some vocalizations there... some soft puffing

Host: I heard that soft puffing!

DrPPatrsn: Now shaking her head no. Are you not going to answer that question?

Host: Do you like to chat with other people? That was from Rulucky!

DrPPatrsn: Koko, do you like to talk to people?

LiveKOKO: Fine nipple.

DrPPatrsn: Yes, that was her answer. 'Nipple' rhymes with 'people,' OK? She doesn't sign people per se, so she may be trying to do a 'sounds like...' but she indicated it was 'fine.'

Host: BSikor439 wants to know, Koko, which of your paintings do you like most? Is she still painting?

DrPPatrsn: She hasn't seen her paintings for awhile. She is still painting.

Host: Tell us what she's doing right now!

DrPPatrsn: She's re-arranging the furniture in her room, basically. Let me move some of these boxes back. There's a lot of stuff here. Let me ask her if she LIKES to paint...one second. She's taking a toilet break.

Host: Dr. Patterson, why is this such an important project?

DrPPatrsn: We're learning so many things on many levels, many of which I did not predict.

Host: You've devoted your whole life to it! What are we learning?

DrPPatrsn: I had started to simply see if another species could communicate with us in our own language, that being sign language. And we have found that, yes, that is so and that she is actually very creative with that language and that we share not only the ability to form words and thoughts but also to talk about abstract things like feelings, the past and future...

Host: I can see that!

DrPPatrsn: … so those were sort of surprises, that she would be so creative. And that she would be essentially adding to the process. What I've discovered in the meantime is that she has already got the system, it's not that I gave her a system to communicate. Gorillas already communicate with a rich vocabulary of gestures. (K looks at a birthday card.) What I've done is simply share the vocabulary with her. So those things were all unexpected. We have a window into the mind of another species, which is, I think, one of the values in (that) this species is really part of our family as humans. They are our closest living relatives. So we stand to learn a huge amount about ourselves - our ancestry. How we might have evolved into the species we are today. That's just part of it. I could go on. We are learning a lot about gorillas themselves in terms of things as diverse as reproductive physiology. Things that are not even meant for Koko's ears, she will respond to things at rather a sophisticated level. We have documented her comprehension of English and this is not just at the level of tone (of voice), but this is at the level of the tiny pieces that the language is made of. . .she actually discriminates phonemes. And that kind of thing had never been know before. The fact that they can create representational art is yet another aspect that I certainly didn't expect but that has implications for anthropology in terms of how far back the roots go for this kind of representational behavior.

LiveKOKO: Lip apply-lip lipstick. (Looking at the picture of a woman model in the magazine.) This. (On the page)

Host: I've heard people say she's not really communicating -- I think she's smarter than we are-- after all, how many of us can speak gorilla!

DrPPatrsn: Exactly! She has learned our language but we haven't learned hers. So that does say a lot about the relative capacities of our species to communicate with another one.

Host: What new things are there to learn after 26 years?

DrPPatrsn: Every day brings new surprises in terms of learning about gorillas in order to save them, but also in terms of learning about ourselves and mainly that consists of (learning about) new ground about how similar we are. Every little nuance that she comes up with often surprise me, and I don't know why I'm surprised, but I am still surprised when she shows a new level of sophistication.

Host: A basic earthy question for Koko from Earth2Kim: Koko, what is your favorite food, fruit, or vegetable?

DrPPatrsn: Ok...she's thinking...

Host: People have a lot of stereotypes!

LiveKOKO: Sip.

DrPPatrsn:  She likes drinks. What your favorite drink? Do you have a favorite drink?

LiveKOKO: Drink apple.

Host: SickboyRE asks: Koko, have you taught other gorillas sign language, on your own?

DrPPatrsn: Good question.

LiveKOKO: myself lip

DrPPatrsn: She taught herself. That's really true, too. That's very good and I think what part of that answer might be, is that she's taught us. In other words, 'myself lip' was her answer and 'lip' is her word for woman. So 'herself' has taught 'lips', perhaps. So there are a couple of interpretations there.

Host: She's really creative!

DrPPatrsn: She's acknowledging that answer.

Host: She makes up some of her own terms, like Lips for woman.

DrPPatrsn: and foot for male.

Host: Another question from the audience: Does Koko like birds? I have the bird t-shirt she painted -- I'm wearing it now!

DrPPatrsn: She's very thoughtful today, she just walked away, she's looking out the window...

Host: She's looking at the birds!

DrPPatrsn: There are a number of blue jays that have been frequenting her play yard, exactly! She's going to look at the birds!

LiveKOKO: Lips.

DrPPatrsn: ... and signing 'lips', which is her word for 'woman'. I can't see what she's seeing completely. I'm at an angle with the window and can't leave where I am.

Host: This is a very abstract one for her: Are you content with your life? That was from Jedi114. I'm very curious to see what she might say to that! We know she might not be able to answer everything, but we're going for it anyway!

DrPPatrsn: Koko, are you happy?

LiveKOKO: fine

Host: Here's one: Koko, where would you like to visit?

DrPPatrsn: That's hard because Koko doesn't travel.

Host: We were wondering about that.

DrPPatrsn: So, her concept of space is very limited compared to even a child, because we really stay here of necessity. So we could ask her if she would like to go to Hawaii.

Host: Would she like to go to Hawaii?

LiveKOKO: Look.

Host: Me too!

DrPPatrsn: Maybe she'd like to see it first. She actually has travelogs of Hawaii that she looks at on her video machine; travelogs, Hawaii videos. So she has seen it.

Host: Does she watch TV?

DrPPatrsn: Only public broadcasting.

Host: LOL (laugh out loud).

LiveKOKO: Think.

Host: Storm 1004 asks, Dear Koko...I've watched you for years now...your gentle spirit is inspiration for many... I'd like to know what you'd like for your birthday. What a sweet question!

LiveKOKO: Birthday. Food and smokes.


DrPPatrsn: Well, she sort of signed 'food' and 'smokes.' You have to understand...Smoke is also the sign for her kitten. Her kitty's name is Smoky. So that one could have a double meaning.. Yes, she (does) still have Smoky. She's looking out the window right now, so her back is to me.

Host: HMBarbari: asks Koko, Have you ever tried to teach your kittens sign language?

DrPPatrsn: She still has Smokey. She's looking out the window right now...Actually, I can tell you that she has not tried to teach them sign language but she has tried to nurse her kittens.

Host: Wow!

DrPPatrsn: It's very important to her. She's 310 lbs. I can't get her to turn around...

Host: LBratt0n asks, Koko do you have an email address?

DrPPatrsn: Koko does have an email address Koko@gorilla.org.

Host: JAM6860 asks, You like your trainer a lot don't you? (I think she means you, Dr. P!)

DrPPatrsn: no comment...LOL. She's thinking about it. LOL.

Question: Hi Koko, you are a beautiful gorilla. Was it hard to learn sign language?

Host: OceanFish asked that one! I agree -- she's the most beautiful gorilla I know!

LiveKOKO: (No response)

DrPPatrsn:  She's not answering.

ReBeL1999 asks, do you dream at night? Wouldn't it be amazing to know what a gorilla dreams!

DrPPatrsn: I think I may have asked her his once. Do you dream at night when you sleep? Do you dream? I asked her this once and I had to explain it . I asked her if she - what senses that might be used - did she hear things smell things, see things. So I needed to explain what a dream was and I don't remember. I could ask her again. Koko, when you dream, do you hear things, smell things, see things? Do you dream?

LiveKOKO: (No response)

Host: What do you like to do best, for fun, asks TrukkasW? Sounds like Koko might have had enough?

DrPPatrsn: Maybe she has...

LiveKOKO: Hear the phone.

DrPPatrsn: Is there anything you'd like to say, Koko?

Host: We knew she might only be able to chat for about a half an hour...

DrPPatrsn: She just gave a little vocalization. She wants a little refreshment here.

Host: Were you real real sad when your cat died? Does she miss her? BDurant79 asked that.

DrPPatrsn: Actually, she does. I can answer that for you. Even thumbing through picture books of cats that look like her kitty, she does react with emotional words like 'frown' and 'sad'. So, yes, she still remembers.

Host: How long ago was that?

DrPPatrsn: She does react with emotional words...That was in 1985. She's having some snacks and food here.

LiveKOKO: lips, hurry, good, give me.

Host: Lips is woman, right?

DrPPatrsn: Right. She's got an alligator. She's playing with her alligator and her lady doll. Oh, my! She may be doing a little acting out here.

Host: She sounds like she's working out a bit of aggression! I'm trying to get a picture of where you are, what it looks like?

DrPPatrsn: We're in Koko's kitchen area. There are toys all around a refrigerator, television, stuffed animals, videos. It's got a lot of stuff including a harmonica but she pushed it away, doesn't want to play with that. I gave her a couple of fabric bracelets... she's looking at them. She's putting it on her head because actually these are scrunchies.

LiveKOKO:  Fake.

DrPPatrsn:  She signed 'fake.' She's pulling one of them and it's not fitting her hair.

LiveKOKO:  Hat that toilet. Good tell-you-hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  It's a toilet hat? No, it's a nice hat. Pretty.

LiveKOKO:  Fake stink tell-you-hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  'Fake flowers.' She said they were 'fake flowers.'

Host: Does she have hair? Or is it like fur?

DrPPatrsn:  She has hair. You have hair, right Koko?

LiveKOKO:  Fine. Drink give-me.

DrPPatrsn:  She signed 'fine' on her head.

LiveKOKO:  Fine (at brow) you-hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  She has 'fine hair,' she said. It's beautiful!

LiveKOKO:  Lips good hurry-you.

Host: How big is she?

DrPPatrsn:  She's about 5 feet tall and weighs about 300-310 lbs. She has a big tummy! What else can I say about you, Koko?

Host: Koko tell us what you look like in your words?

DrPPatrsn:  These people on the phone would like to know what you look like.

LiveKOKO:  This. (Indicating flower on scrunchie).

DrPPatrsn:  Oh, that does...

LiveKOKO:  This...stink. This. (Indicating flower on scrunchie).

DrPPatrsn:  ...have a 'flower' on it. She's showing me there's a flower...'that flower there'... one of the scrunchies has a big sun flower on it. That.

LiveKOKO:  That. (Indicating sunflower on scrunchie.)

LiveKOKO:  That fine eat know give-me. (Koko scratches her face.) Eat. (Koko scratches her face again.)

DrPPatrsn:  'Eat know' K-N-O-W 'eat' so she wants a little more of the snack, apparently.

LiveKOKO:  Obnoxious.

DrPPatrsn:  Was that a tiny 'obnoxious' sign? There was a little suggestion of maybe - are you tired?

LiveKOKO:  Sleep lie-down. This (indicating red scrunchie) red red hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  'That red red,' to the scrunchie that's red.

LiveKOKO:  Good sip give-me.

DrPPatrsn:  I think it's about dinner time for her now.

Host: How do you feel about Michael?

DrPPatrsn:  Koko? How do you feel about Michael?

LiveKOKO:  Foot, foot, bigtoe-foot (simultaneously, each hand active) good go.

Host: 'Foot' means male, right?

DrPPatrsn:  Yes, he's a good male.

LiveKOKO:  Nipple.

DrPPatrsn:  And then she signed 'nipple' and she had the alligator bite the scrunchie...

LiveKOKO:  Good kiss* go hurry. (Perhaps Koko wants PP to hang up?)

K puts her finger in the alligator's mouth and pulls out quickly. Then she picks up the lady doll.

LiveKOKO:  Kiss. (The lady doll.)

DrPPatrsn:  ..and she signed 'good,' and she's acting out a little here, and the alligator is biting the lady doll again.

LiveKOKO:  Good hurry-you.

DrPPatrsn:  Right.

LiveKOKO:  Good hurry.

Host: What about Ndume?

DrPPatrsn:  OK, what about Ndume? What do you think about Ndume?

LiveKOKO:  Frown bad bad bad.

DrPPatrsn:  Oh no!

Host: Oh dear.

DrPPatrsn:  Not such a good review of Ndume.

LiveKOKO:  Toilet down kiss* good go hurry.

Host: Uh oh!

DrPPatrsn:  Oh, honey! I thought you were good friends.

Host: I thought he was supposed to be her mate! What did he do to you today, Koko?

DrPPatrsn:  I don't know... she doesn't have good things to say about him today anyway.

LiveKOKO:  This (indicating flower on scrunchie) stink go.

DrPPatrsn:  What did Ndume do today?

LiveKOKO:  Down obnoxious.

DrPPatrsn:  She said that before in a statement it was something about 'Ndume down.' He did something 'obnoxious' that was 'down', but I didn't see what happened. Maybe they had a little tiff.

LiveKOKO:  Kiss (on fingertip) go behind (pointing toward her right rear) down.

DrPPatrsn:  OK. All right, Koko...She's reading a birthday card...

LiveKOKO:  Lipstick...

DrPPatrsn:  ...and signing 'lipstick'...

LiveKOKO:  ...lips.

DrPPatrsn:  'lipstick lips.'

Host: This is interesting, from the audience, not sure how you'd askthis: Koko, do you feel love from the humans who have raised you and cared for you? Ely35150 asked that. We'll see what she says!

DrPPatrsn:  I need to simplify that.

LiveKOKO:  This (on word? inside card) nipple this. (On card.)

DrPPatrsn:  Koko, do you think the people here love you?

LiveKOKO:  People (on her head the way Penny signed it) apple give me.

DrPPatrsn:  People give her her favorite foods. That was what she said: 'people apple give me.' Her sign for people is like this; 'Person apple give me.' Do they love you?

LiveKOKO:  Fine (at 'people' position) don't-know red-bad.

DrPPatrsn:  Do they love you?

LiveKOKO:  Love no. (Headshake.)

DrPPatrsn:  She signed something before that but now she's signing 'love' and then a 'head shake.' OH, honey, this doesn't sound good at all.

LiveKOKO:  Browse (tentative) for there hurry. (Indicating cereal treats in Penny's pocket.)

DrPPatrsn:  Oh she said something 'for'...'Michael' or what...'for?'

LiveKOKO:  Browse drink polite nipple there hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  It was 'browse drink polite nipple.' Browse is the kind of browsing food we give them. It's little things that they can graize on. And that's what I am feeding her now in lieu of her dinner because we're on the phone. But, Koko, do you think people love you?

LiveKOKO:  Kiss kiss kiss (on alligator toy) Koko-love. (Hugging toy.)

DrPPatrsn:  She's kissing her alligator and signing 'Koko-love'.

LiveKOKO:  That nipple go drink, go. Lights-off good.

DrPPatrsn:  (Laughing.) 'Lights-off good.' That's like a closer.

Host: That sounds like a good segue!

K picks up a picture of a chimpanzee.

LiveKOKO:  This. (Indicating the picture.)

DrPPatrsn:  Because the 'lights-off good' means that Ron has a light on the camera. So we're turning the lights off here. She's having the alligator bite her chimpanzee picture.

Host: Let's let her off the hook then! Tell us that about the Maui preserve, what you're hoping to do?

LiveKOKO:  Mouth give-me. (Indicating browse Penny is taking from her pocket.)

DrPPatrsn:  Our dream is to establish a preserve on 70 acres of...

LiveKOKO:  Give-me. (Asking for browse.)

DrPPatrsn:  ...land donated on West Maui by Maui Land & Pineapple...

LiveKOKO:  Me.

DrPPatrsn:  ...Company...

LiveKOKO:  This nipple. (Pointing to a picture of a chimpanzee.)

After signing 'this nipple,' Koko then holds the corner of the picture to her breast.

DrPPatrsn:  ...and that would...

LiveKOKO:  This. (Tapping the picture several times.)

DrPPatrsn:  ...be a sanctuary for gorillas...

LiveKOKO:  Give-me do. (Asking for browse.)

DrPPatrsn:  ...including...

LiveKOKO:  Good kiss* give-me.

DrPPatrsn:  ...Koko, Michael and Ndume.

LiveKOKO:  Purr...darn (Indicating chimpanzee picture).

DrPPatrsn:  ...A place where they would be safe and would be able to raise a family.

LiveKOKO:  Give-me hurry kiss* good give-me.

Host: Will you be able to recreate a natural family unit there?

DrPPatrsn:  Right, this is what we're hoping. Not only would we have a more natural environment because it's very much like the climate of Africa, but we'd be able to have a natural family unit which is a male, several females and their babies...and their babies... Yes, that is usually the case.

LiveKOKO:  Fake.

DrPPatrsn:  She said 'fake' and she's having her alligator bite the lady doll.

LiveKOKO:  Good give-me.

Host: What does 'fake' mean to her?

DrPPatrsn:  'Fake' means false. I mean...

LiveKOKO:  Lip hurry there.

DrPPatrsn: ..maybe some of what I'm saying...I don't know... She said it just before she acted out that little scene, but also, I had answered a question of yours about multiple females and 1 male and of course, that's not the situation we have.

LiveKOKO:  Obnoxious...fake.

DrPPatrsn:  She signed 'obnoxious...fake.' What I have to explain to you and her is that we're working to have this happen. She knows that it's not so right now so she might be responding to what I'm saying.

LiveKOKO:  Gorilla.

DrPPatrsn:  She signing 'gorilla.' Yes, a place for gorillas to have families.

LiveKOKO:  Frown red bad bad... red good give-me.

DrPPatrsn:  'Frown bad' because she doesn't have one. I think this is a reaction to the fact that this is not what she has now.

Host: She IS smart!

DrPPatrsn:  This is something I'm talking about, but it hasn't happened. And the reason we haven't been able to make it happen yet is...

LiveKOKO:  Kiss* give-me.

DrPPatrsn:  ...that we're trying very hard to raise the money that it will take to build the preserve and make it habitable for them. That's going to take about $7 million, and we're less than 1/2 way there. So we're hoping that corporations, the public at large, foundations will help us with that project. And we are now approaching them and asking, so we're asking here, too.

LiveKOKO:  Hurry give-me mouth nipple.

Host: So everyone, buy t-shirts -- every one is a donation to the preserve! At Keyword:Heaven after the chat!

DrPPatrsn:  That's great! That's one way Koko and her future family to be can have their dream. She very much does want to have a baby. When we bring up the subject, she often signs 'sad frown' because it hasn't happened for her yet. She's indicated very directly that's what she wants.

Koko has started playing with a stuffed alligator toy and working it's zippered mouth. Then she picks up a comb and starts combing her hair.

DrPPatrsn:  She's playing with her alligator here and she's putting a comb in the alligator's mouth.

LiveKOKO:  Good kiss* give-me.

DrPPatrsn:  She signs 'good.'

Host: Is she about finished, do you think?

DrPPatrsn:  Are you finished?

LiveKOKO:  Fine have food lips lipstick hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  That's like 'Ok. I'm ready for dinner!' But that's what she said. Are you finished? 'Fine have food lips.'

LiveKOKO:  Hurry.

Host: So we should say goodbye?

DrPPatrsn:  Shall we say good bye?

LiveKOKO:  Bye-kiss* hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  She blew a kiss!

LiveKOKO:  Blow. (On the palm of her hand.)

DrPPatrsn:  She blew another one. The first one she kissed and the other one she 'blew'...

LiveKOKO:  Good-kiss.*

DrPPatrsn:  She either does one or the other..OK, she's indicating that it's 'OK'. It is a good time to say goodbye. OK, we'll say goodbye then Koko.

LiveKOKO:  Good kiss* kiss* kiss* blow go.

DrPPatrsn:  She's blowing more kisses right now.

Host: Good bye and thank you Koko! Thank you Dr. Patterson!

LiveKOKO:  There look have.

DrPPatrsn:  They said 'Thank you.' She said 'look'...'have' or 'feel.' I can't see too well. What? OH, she can't see you. I think maybe that's a source of frustration. We can't see them, we can only hear them.

Host: I would be happy to come see her so she could look at me!

Host: What will she do now when we get off the phone? What does she eat for dinner?

LiveKOKO:  Candy hurry...candy.

DrPPatrsn:  She'll probably be very pleased to have her dinner. She's asking me for 'candy' right now. After dinner.

LiveKOKO:  Candy hurry.

DrPPatrsn:  She has vegetables for dinner ... raw vegetables...

LiveKOKO:  Nipple.

DrPPatrsn:  Yes, like a big salad.

LiveKOKO:  Hear.

DrPPatrsn:  She wants to hear, but the only trouble is phone cord won't quite stretch this far Koko. Do you want to hear this?

LiveKOKO:  Huff.* Visitor Koko-love lips lipstick lip.

DrPPatrsn:  'Visitor Koko-love lips lipstick lip.' She loves you guys.

Host: Thank you and good night!

Copyright 1998 America Online, Inc.


Image of an archival newspaper article about Koko the Gorilla.


Susan Poulton, Chief Digital Officer at The Franklin Institute

About the author

Susan Poulton

Susan Poulton is the President of Door 44 Digital and was the Chief Digital Officer of the Franklin Institute from 2015-2018. Her passion is inspiring and awakening curiosity in any audience and moving them to action through digital experiences and storytelling.

Follow Susan on Twitter @SEPoulton