A woman sheltered a baby gorilla and taught her to talk. After 57 years, what they contributed to science was impressive

Many animals are known to see and smell better than we do, or they can detect things we can’t, such as magnetic fields. It has long been known that some animals have amazing senses, like dogs have a much better sense of smell than ours, cats can see in total darkness, and humans can do nothing without a flashlight. Some animals can sense things we’re not even aware of, such as ultraviolet radiation from Earth’s magnetic field.

But despite all that, we still think we’re smarter because humans can talk, they can think, they can plan. Of course, some animals are perfectly amenable to training, and parrots, for example, can repeat the words they hear. But the animal performs all the commands automatically and probably without even thinking about it. This raises the question of whether they can understand what they are doing, feeling, experiencing and transmitting their emotions. As this story shows, not only can they, but they do it perfectly well.
But perhaps we just do not understand it, and are on a completely different wave, where we only want to hear what we want. This same issue has interested American zoopsychologist Dr. Penny Patterson half a century ago.

23 year old Penny earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the university of Illinois in 1970. After which, she set a goal to devote her life to primates and in 1971 she began what many consider to be a world-changing experiment but this story began by accident on july 4th 1971.

On the next anniversary of American Independence, a female western lowland gorilla was born at the San Francisco zoo named Hanabiko, the child of fireworks in Japanese or simply Coco.

It was with this baby a year later that Francine Penny Patterson then a graduate student at Stanford university began her work her goal was simple to complete her dissertation on sign language in wild animals.

baby gorrila adopted by Penny
baby gorrila adopted by Penny
Gorillas are gentle giants and display many human-like behaviors and emotions, such as laughter and sadness. In fact, gorillas share 98.3% of their genetic code with humans, making them our closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos. 

It was a lifelong endeavor for both Penny and little Coco. After her dissertation, Patterson did not abandon her mentee and in 1976 she founded the gorilla foundation under its ages the gorilla lived the rest of her life in a private sanctuary in the Santa Cruz mountains near Woodside California, Usa.

In order for the gorilla to understand the basics of sign language, Penny had to use all the techniques that are used when working with deaf mute people at first the gorilla didn’t really want to learn so patterson simply showed her the object and repeated the gesture corresponding to it as many times as necessary. Watch video below to know what will happen next to Penny and Coco:

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