Gorilla grieving death of friend didn’t laugh in four months, then Robin Williams tickled her

Robin Williams is remembered as an extraordinary comedian who could walk into any room and have the people inside laughing within minutes, no matter what the original atmosphere was. His passing in 2014 left people all over the world reeling and in shock, even more so as details of his depression and personal troubles surfaced in the wake of it.

Even now, six years later, this iconic actor, comedian and singer is still remembered and beloved. Williams had a unique way of connecting with people of all backgrounds, and one of the connections he formed was with Koko, a gorilla trained in sign language. In a tribute video from 2014, Koko’s caregivers showed the two meeting in 2001.


The video shows the special talent Williams had for brightening people’s lives. In fact, it was this very talent that had caused the meeting between him and Koko in the first place. The Gorilla Foundation, the organization which took care of Koko amongst other gorillas, had reached out to the star.

A few months before, Koko had lost her best friend and playmate, another Gorilla named Michael. As she had become sad, withdrawn and depressed after her friend passed away, the foundation wanted to find a way to cheer her up again and reached out to Robin Williams. The comedian agreed to try and lift the gorilla’s spirits.



Shortly after the encounter, Williams spoke about the meeting in an interview with Today:

“We shared something extraordinary: Laughter,” Williams said. “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.”

The video showing their meeting makes clear how comfortable the two felt around each other, only a short time after meeting. Koko plays with Williams, steals his glasses of his face to try them on herself and even picks his pocket and rifles through his wallet.


Many years later, when Koko heard about Williams death in 2014, she was shocked and became sad. According to her caregiver at the Gorilla Foundation, Koko looked down and stopped moving when she was told Williams had passed. A few moments later, she signed “cry” in American Sign Language. The old gorilla lady seemed to be genuinely moved and extremely sad over the comedian’s passing.

Sadly, Koko herself passed away in 2018 at the age of 46, a very respectable age for a Gorilla.

Had you seen this video before? Would you have been able to play around with a gorilla so easily? We hope Williams and Koko managed to meet again in the afterlife! Pass this heartwarming story along to your friends and family.

If you or anybody you know is struggling with thoughts of taking their own life, we urge you to visit befrienders.org to find your local suicide prevention hotline.

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