FROM NOVEMBER 29, 2000
AOL LIVE CHAT
AOL Live, in cooperation with the Gorilla Foundation, presented a truly
unique interspecies chat with Koko the Gorilla, who speaks in sign language.
Koko's caregiver, Dr. Penny Patterson, read members' questions to Koko and
relayed Koko's signed responses.
Scroll down to read the full transcript...
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko, we want to know about you and your friends and
your interests. She wants to look at some new things we brought her. I don't
know if she's in the mood for questions. Sometimes she answers nicely.
Sometimes she waits a little while. Let's see how it goes!
Koko: (getting a surprise box out of the other room)
Dr. Penny Patterson: I have some fun things in here -- a funny nose on your
gorilla doll! You can look at your new brush. There are some papers in your
box, and a book and a hat! Nice! What does Koko like to do? She likes to play
with new toys! And she also likes to get clothing. She likes to look at
books, and we'll be doing some of that. She's kind of tossing her toys
Koko: (looking at a new book)
Dr. Penny Patterson: We'll be looking at books about Christmas presents.
Koko likes to help me to design our catalog each year, and we're getting
ideas right now from various catalogs, including the Target catalog.
Koko: (finding a food surprise)
Koko: Gorilla eat good!
Dr. Penny Patterson: You're being silly, tossing all your things aside! I
think we've gotten to the end of the box! Let's take a look at what you've
got. A bag with animals on it.
Koko: (Koko is looking at all of her new goodies)
Dr. Penny Patterson: Let's ask what Koko wants for Christmas. Koko, you want
to tell me some things you'd like for Christmas?
Koko: (Koko points at a videotape)
Dr. Penny Patterson: Hah! She got out a videotape. That's one thing in our
catalog. Also she told me she wants a camera for Christmas! Want to tell us
what you want for Christmas?
Dr. Penny Patterson: She pointed to the word "glitter.” LOL.
Koko: (flipping through the magazine)
Dr. Penny Patterson: She pointed to her brush.
Dr. Penny Patterson: The brush is actually in our catalog too. OK. Koko,
someone wants to ask, "Do you like people?" Do you like people, gorillas,
dogs, cats? Which do you like?
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko is thinking about it.
Koko: (pointing to catalog)
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko is pointing to the catalog. You like reading! I
was asking you about living things, like people or gorillas or cats, or maybe
even elephants! Or birds! She's looking at her empty nut bag. Do you like
people? No? Well, what do you like? Koko is brushing herself. You do you like
scratching. Like when I scratch your back? Or brushing? What do you like?
Koko has picked up the videotape. I think she likes watching tapes. We do
that a lot in the morning! So, you like watching movies, huh?
Koko: (asking Penny to put in the video)
Dr. Penny Patterson: We'll watch this one in a few minutes, OK?
Koko: (looking at clothing)
Dr. Penny Patterson: You got some clothing there!
Koko: (pointing at herself)
Dr. Penny Patterson: Now she's pointing to her own picture! Do you like
yourself? I like you, Koko.
Koko: (going over to the mirror)
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko is going to the mirror with my brush to brush her
hair. She's purring. She's happy. Looking in the mirror and brushing her hair
makes her happy.
Dr. Penny Patterson: Honey? What? How about another question? What's your
Koko: Lips, fake hair.
Dr. Penny Patterson: Oh, you're being funny!
Koko: Polite nipple. Polite.
Dr. Penny Patterson: Nipple means people. That's right.
Koko: Gum, candy.
Dr. Penny Patterson: That's your favorite food!
Koko: Sip, sip, sip, sip, sip!
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko loves a special drink, and it will be in your
Christmas catalog. Koko's special drink. She's is kissing the picture. What
is your favorite food to eat, Koko? Like -- do you like corn, apples,
Dr. Penny Patterson: I know, we were just talking about drinks. But which
food do you like?
Koko: Mail and apples!
Dr. Penny Patterson: The reason she says mail is because she loves to lick
envelopes, so the taste of mail is delicious to Koko. She's going to brush my
hair. Thank you, sweetie! I speak a lot of English to Koko, because she
processes English just as well as she processes sign language. Thank you for
combing! You are doing a great job. Maybe you could pick a question, Koko.
But I'll let you finish up my hair first! Thank you, Koko.
Koko: (combing hair)
Dr. Penny Patterson: Now she's going to do her own hair with her beautiful
Dr. Penny Patterson: That's close to your favorite color.
Koko: Red! Red, red, red that!
Dr. Penny Patterson: Red. Yes. Red is your favorite color. And here is a
VERY red blouse in the catalog. Do you like soft things?
Dr. Penny Patterson: She signed soft with the red shirt on her cheek.
Koko: Hungry there eat!
Dr. Penny Patterson: She is hungry. What food are you hungry for?
Koko: Orange. Apple.
Dr. Penny Patterson: I don't have apples and oranges. I only have one thing
in my pocket. Do you know what it is? We have another interesting question,
Koko. We know that sometimes you are silly. Do you like to make jokes and be
Koko: (making kissing noises)
Dr. Penny Patterson: She's kissing her orange kitten in the picture. Would
you like to see your kitty?
Koko: Cat tiger there.
Dr. Penny Patterson: Here's Mo! Is this kitty your baby, Koko? Your baby
kitty? Is your kitty your baby?
Koko: Candy. Hurry!
Dr. Penny Patterson: I was asking about your kitty! What do you think about
Koko: (looking at Penny's earpiece)
Dr. Penny Patterson: That's my earphone! We're talking about your cat. The
earphone helps me hear. You've seen them before.
Dr. Penny Patterson: She is listening to it!
Dr. Penny Patterson: You are so good. You are a very good gorilla. Are you a
little bit upset today? What have you got there? She picked up her gorilla
doll. It has a gorilla nose mask, which Koko is putting on. There you go!
That's very charming!
Dr. Penny Patterson: She wants me to get her another drink. Do you like it
when the weather is hot or cold?
Dr. Penny Patterson: Gorillas like hot! Me too. When it's cold, we can't got
out. OK, let's get a glass. Got it! Oh, Koko! Someone asks, "Do you like to
tickle?" LOL. Honey, do you like to tickle?
Koko: Tickle. Tickle on me.
Dr. Penny Patterson: You like different games, huh? What games would you
Koko: Secret. Tickle foot!
Dr. Penny Patterson: She likes to tickle feet. Foot has a double meaning. It
can mean the body part or a "boy."
Koko: Tickle nipple.
Dr. Penny Patterson: She likes to tickle people too.
Koko: Tickle Ndume. He's sweet!
Dr. Penny Patterson: That was a nice thing to say. Ndume is your boyfriend!
Speaking of sweet Ndume, do you want to have a baby? Would you like a baby?
Dr. Penny Patterson: Do you want to have a baby?
Dr. Penny Patterson: All these questions are making you thirsty!
Dr. Penny Patterson: I'm thirsty too.
Koko: Time to go.
Dr. Penny Patterson: Do you like babies?
Koko: Koko love, love, good, hurry!
Dr. Penny Patterson: Oh, honey. We want you to have a baby. She wants a
drink too! We're very much in the immediate moment here! I bet you would talk
with your baby. You would talk with your baby with hands, right?
Koko: Speak with hands.
Dr. Penny Patterson: The hand is the way a gorilla speaks. Humans speak with
Koko: Love baby.
Dr. Penny Patterson: I think you're an extremely hungry gorilla! I think I'm
going to give you the rest of these nuts in my pocket. Why don't we do
something different? Hey! A question for me! Do I get to answer a question,
or do you want to answer all the questions, Koko?
Koko: (picking up a phone in the room)
Dr. Penny Patterson: Will visitors be allowed at the new Maui sanctuary?
Gorillas are very, very private, so we will have virtual visitors. Male
gorillas especially feel the need to protect their families. But the virtual
visits will allow people to experience what it is like at the center. The
visitor center will likely be in a nearby town, and some visitors may even
get to chat with Koko in real time. And they'll get to see Koko's paintings.
She is a very good painter.
Dr. Penny Patterson: It is a way for the public to visit with Koko while
still respecting her privacy. Koko is reading now, having a little private
time! Where did that page go that I gave you? Maybe you'd like to do a little
writing. You're very much into microphones today! She's using her brush as a
microphone. She's clearly aware of the fact that we are communicating right
now. What have you got there? Oh! Koko actually has some of her paintings.
Another question for me! Oh, boy, Koko! It's about whether you sign to your
animal friends. Do you ever sign to your kitty?
Koko: Kitty, yes.
Dr. Penny Patterson: I've seen you sign to your kitty. Sometimes she signs
"tickle," and sometimes "chase" to the dog. Am I right about that?
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko is coming over to visit her kitty. Mo has been
eating and resting. Come out and visit us, Mo. I think Mo is tired today.
Koko is looking at the book about her kitty. How is your Smoky cat, Koko? She
just found the picture of Smoky in the catalog, on a T-shirt. Yes, Koko,
that's Smoky cat!
Dr. Penny Patterson: She's going to wear it! How nice! She's pointing to
Smoky and then to herself. She pointed to her nose and then Smoky's nose.
Yes! You both have noses! I think you love Smoky.
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko? Do YOU have any questions for the people?
Dr. Penny Patterson: Do you like people?
Dr. Penny Patterson: Yes, people. She's going to reach under my shirt! Oh,
Dr. Penny Patterson: That was a pinch, Koko!
Koko: Go chase!
Dr. Penny Patterson: OK, we're going to go play and chase around the room
for a minute. LOL. What?
Dr. Penny Patterson: Koko needs to take a break. Here's a good one, Koko!
You'll like this one! It's a question about questions! Koko likes to read
sometimes, when she takes a bathroom break.
Koko: That do.
Dr. Penny Patterson: Here's the question. It's funny. Do you like questions,
Dr. Penny Patterson: Another question for me! Does Penny like questions?
Koko: (pointing at Penny's earphone)
Dr. Penny Patterson: “How can we help Koko?” they ask. How can we help YOU,
Koko? People want to help you, sweetie, help you to have a hot home in
Hawaii. And also to save your friends and family in Africa. They can donate
at helping.org or gorilla.org and help us to create the first gorilla
preserve outside Africa, and to help change peoples' perception of gorillas
all around the world. Koko is helping with her book about her kitty. Where
did your pen go, sweetie? Ndume is at the door! Knock! Knock!
Koko: (writing an "N")
Dr. Penny Patterson: She is writing an "N" for Ndume. Sometimes she does
write letters, and she makes a pretty decent signature, too.
Koko: Gorilla gorilla that!
Dr. Penny Patterson: She just wrote Ndume's name.
Dr. Penny Patterson: You are good, Koko! It's about time for you to have a
treat. You've been good.
Dr. Penny Patterson: How do you know when you're good, Koko?
Dr. Penny Patterson: She purred and signed "good."
Dr. Penny Patterson: She likes to talk about her feelings.
Koko: Polite gorilla feels sorry and nice. Come on, it's time!
Dr. Penny Patterson: She says "it's time" to have a snack.
Koko: (blowing kiss)
Dr. Penny Patterson: We're going to say "bye." She is blowing a kiss to
everyone. You are a good gorilla!
Dr. Penny Patterson: Thank you to all the folks at AOL and Target and our
Dr. Penny Patterson: Yes, Koko, we will thank all the women especially!
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