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Story Of Koko The Gorilla Mourning Robin Williams Goes Viral

The Gorilla Foundation posted video of a meeting between Williams and Koko in 2001, and says Koko has been sad over the news of his death.
Posted at 1:00 PM, Aug 13, 2014

Robin Williams is being remembered for his acting talents, his comic genius — and one moment we didn't see coming: the time he met Koko the gorilla.

In 2001, Williams met Koko, a female who, her caregiver says, can understand sign language. Tuesday, The Gorilla Foundation posted video of their meeting.

"It was awesome and unforgettable."

"She's going to adopt you!"

"Tickle...tickle...tickle"

The foundation also published a note saying Koko had seen her team learn the news of Williams' passing, and by the end of the day, "Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering." 

Basically, the story of Koko mourning Williams is going viral. There is a bit of skepticism to be had here — when celebrities die, there are always people and organizations who try to capitalize off the media attention. The wording of the press release asks the public to remember Williams as one of the most powerful ambassadors of ape conservation.

 San Francisco's KGO-TV anchors had some other questions.

"You made a great point — couldn't they have just not told Koko?"

"And made her sad?"

"Maybe so. But it's always nice to hear from The Gorilla Foundation."

But the actor's meeting with Koko has certainly made an impact — it's being called charming and incredibly moving.

Ultimately, of all the things to remember Williams for — his films, his stand-up comedy — this seems like a surprising moment to make headlines. But it might be because the encounter does exemplify the two qualities people seem to be remembering about him most: his comedic talents and his generosity.

According to The Gorilla Foundation, Williams tickled Koko and made her smile for the first time in months since she'd lost her gorilla companion, Michael. 

And the New York Post reports he filmed a PSA with her in 2004.

The meeting stuck with Williams — he'd talk about Koko in his stand-up routines and spoke about her on "Ellen."

"I tickle her, she's, 'Oh! Oh! Oh!' which is great — laughing. I'm glad she laughed."

CNN spokewith Koko's longtime caregiver, Dr. Penny Patterson.

"She was very drawn to him. ... He was so quiet and respectful and just present."

You can watch the full video of Robin and Koko's meeting at Koko.org.

This story features Getty Images.