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Koko the gorilla grieves over death of Robin Williams: Ambassador for great apes

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Besides the rest of the world grieving over the loss of Robin Williams, Koko the great ape, who spent time and forged an emotional connection with Williams, responded by bowing her head and quivering her lip in sadness reported the Gorilla Foundation.

Just in case you didn't know that Williams, in addition to being a great humanitarian, a devoted father, a devoted animal rescuer and dog lover, the man found time to be an ambassador for great ape conservation.

And hopefully to bring a smile to everyone's face, here's the story of Koko and Robin William's encounter in 2001 when the two met at the Gorilla Foundation in California. Koko is adept at communicating using sign language, and when the two met instantly became close friends. In fact Robin made Koko smile; something the gorilla had not done for six months since losing her companion Michael who died at age 27.

The organization's press release stated:

"Koko and Robin’s encounter is a supreme example of how humans and gorillas can overcome interspecies boundaries and express the highest form of empathy -- embracing differences. Robin’s ability to just 'hang out' with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable for Koko."

On Monday, Koko was present when the phone calls began coming in about Robin's death. In a heartbreaking display of empathy and compassion for losing someone Koko loved:

... After the first call, Koko came to Dr. Patterson with an inquiring look on her face. Dr. Patterson explained that "we have lost a dear friend, Robin Williams." Koko was quiet and looked very thoughtful....About a half an hour later, Koko signed to Penny: "CRY LIP" (LIP is Koko's sign for woman).

At the end of the day, Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering."

Make sure you watch the video of Koko and Robin. Even in this very sad time when so many of us grieve for the loss of a truly remarkable man, this meeting between a gorilla and a man must surely have been the "mind altering," and "unforgettable" experience Robin described.

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