Friday, June 21, 2013

Koko's Dead Kitten

 Ask Yahoo!

Tuesday September 5, 2000Previous | Next
Dear Yahoo!:
Koko, the famous gorilla, had a kitten named All Ball. How did All Ball die?
Crazy forKoko
Dear Crazy:
We've long enjoyed stories and photos of the gregarious gorilla. We were saddened to hear about the tragic demise of her cuddly kitten. To learn more, we turned to the Yahoo! search box and entered "Koko All Ball." After leafing through the results, we pieced together the whole story.

Back in 1984, Koko, an accomplished gorilla who understands and uses American Sign Language, asked her trainer, Dr. Francine Patterson, for a cat. So when some abanded kittens were brought to the Woodside, California, compound where Koko lives, she was awarded the pick of the litter. After examining the kittens carefully, Koko chose a tailless gray male that she named All Ball.

Koko proved a wonderful pet owner and mother. She was very gentle with the kitten and treated him much like a baby gorilla, carrying him on her back and trying to nurse him. When she was in a playful mood, she would dress All Ball up in napkins or sign to him suggesting that they tickle each other, her favorite game.

Unfortunately, their relationship ended abrubtly in December of 1984, when All Ball escaped from the gorilla cage and was killed by a car. Koko was extrememly distraught over the death of All Ball and spoke of it soon after:
When asked, "Do you want to talk about your kitty?"
Koko signed, "Cry."
"What happened to your kitty?"
Koko answered, "Sleep cat."
When she saw a picture of a cat who looked very much like All Ball, Koko pointed to the picture and signed, "Cry, sad, frown."
Koko's mourning attracted a great deal of attention from the scientific community. Debates raged over whether or not animals have "emotions" in the human sense.

All Ball was followed by two other kittens, Lipstick and Smoky, and a number of other pets.

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