With the proliferation of video footage online, it is no longer a shock to see animals acting with emotional awareness. Just the other day, we shared footage of a humpback whale saving a diver from an incoming shark. The whale kept the diver under its fin and pushed the person to safety while blocking the shark from getting to her. Whales, dolphins, and dogs are not the only mammals that feel for other species. Gorillas and other primates are also incredibly emotionally aware. After all, chimpanzees are an evolutionary cousin to human beings.
In the video below, you’ll see more evidence that animals have emotions and care for other beings. And you’ll see it happen as Koko the famous gorilla receives a gift for her 44th birthday. And as you’ll see, the gift is a box of kittens.
Koko has achieved fame throughout her life for her numerous achievement. She understands English, can communicate using American Sign Language, and even got a chance to hang out with Robin Williams before he passed. She knows more than 2,000 words in spoken English and about 1,000 words in ASL.
And while these amazing achievements make Koko stand out, her tender-hearted and motherly instinct is what endears so many people to this western lowland gorilla.
The video was filmed during Koko’s 44th birthday in 2015. It’s amazing to watch Koko, a massive and powerful gorilla, bonding with the tiny box of kittens. And it becomes quite clear that Koko has fallen in love with one grey kitten in particular. Meanwhile, another kitten, one with a dark pattern, decides that it loves Koko.
Koko plays with the little kittens. And as she does, she even puts them on her head. And while Koko the gorilla had a lot of fun with the kitten on her birthday, Koko is overjoyed at the end because her handlers give her a surprise. She gets to keep the little felines.
In the years since her 44th birthday, Koko helped raise the kittens. Her caretakers say the kitten help keep Koko young and give her renewed purpose in her life. And because she has the kittens to look after, she has been signing more to her caretakers to make sure her little feline babies get what they need.
And because Koko never got to have babies of her own, these kittens give her a chance to experience her motherly instinct to the fullest.
This is not the first time Koko has had kittens. Last time, the kitten escaped and ran away. And when it got outside, it sadly got hit by a car. This left Koko devastated.
And now that she was given kittens again, Koko has a fresh start. And she has been taking great care of them.
Koko started working with Penny Patterson shortly after her birth at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971. Ever since that fateful day, Koko has proved that she can learn, all without losing her tender disposition.
Patterson told the BBC, “You just don’t expect a gorilla to be that way. Everybody thinks King Kong, stupid, aggressive. She was small and sweet and creative. So it was like raising a kid.”