In 2001, Robin Williams was invited to meet Koko, a gorilla who communicates in sign language and uses more than 1,000 words. The video of their visit, the two sitting together on the floor and tickling at The Gorilla Foundation in northern California, has been widely viewed on the internet (view it below).

On Tuesday the Foundation released a statement not only to express their condolences but also their belief that Koko was actually moved, too, and mourning the death of her friend.

The gorilla was in the room with when calls began coming into their office asking for reaction to the terrible news.

”Koko came to Dr. Patterson with an inquiring look on her face. Dr. Patterson explained that ‘we have lost a dear friend, Robin Williams.’

They recall that Koko was quiet and looked unusually thoughtful (see photo below, left).

On the website, they wrote, “More phone calls about the news came in, and Koko overheard the one from a former colleague who had worked with Williams while filming a public service announcement for The Gorilla Foundation (based on his visit with Koko). The colleague’s voice broke at the end of the conversation. About a half an hour later, Koko in sign language said to Penny: ‘CRY Woman’.

At the end of the day, Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering (photo, right).”

In the video below documenting the meeting of Robin and Koko, the comedian makes the animal smile — something she hadn’t done for 6 months, since the passing of her lifelong gorilla companion at the age of 27.

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