The Time Robin Williams Met With Koko the Gorilla

By Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
May 31, 2016 Updated: May 31, 2016

Years before his death, comedian Robin Williams met with Koko, the famed gorilla who can use sign language to communicate.

In the clip, Williams is seen tickling Koko, who requested it. Then, Koko looks into his wallet.

Williams met Koko back in 2001 at The Gorilla Foundation in northern California. “Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over 6 months, ever since her lifelong gorilla companion, Michael, passed away at the age of 27. But not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed — from a high-energy entertainer, into a mellow, sensitive, empathetic guy, who also just happened to be really funny,” the site says.

When Williams died in 2014, Koko heard about it after overhearing a doctor speaking about his death.  “She became extremely sad,” Dr. Penny Patterson wrote on “Robin’s ability to just ‘hang out’ with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable,” she said.

“I recently had a mind-altering experience communicating with a gorilla,” Williams says in the clip. “We shared something extraordinary: Laughter. Koko understands spoken English and uses over 1,000 signs to share her feelings and thoughts about daily events, life, love, even death. It was awesome and unforgettable.”