After spending 46 years on this planet as an ambassador for interspecies communication, Koko the gorilla quietly passed away in her sleep on Tuesday.

The Gorilla Foundation issued a press release on Wednesday announcing their friend’s passing, noting that she was 46 years old when she died at her preserve in Santa Cruz, California on Wednesday, and that she “was beloved and will be deeply missed.”

“Her impact has been profound and what she has taught us about the emotional capacity of gorillas and their cognitive abilities will continue to shape the world,” they added.

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The western lowland gorilla was famous for her astonishing vocabulary, which made her adept at communicating with her human companions. She was capable of signing over 1,000 words and phrases in a modified form of American Sign Language called Gorilla Sign Language. Additionally, she could understand over 2,000 words of spoken English.

Her intelligence and compassionate spirit got her onto the front page of National Geographic on two separate occasions. For the first issue in 1978, it was a photograph of Koko taking a picture of herself with a 35 mm camera. The second one, which was published in 1985, depicted her and her pet kitten: All Ball.

“The foundation will continue to honor Koko’s legacy and advance our mission with ongoing projects including conservation efforts in Africa, the great ape sanctuary on Maui, and a sign language application featuring Koko for the benefit of both gorillas and children,” said the organization.

(WATCH the touching tribute video below)

Be Sure And Share The Inspirational Story Of Koko’s Life With Your Friends

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