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Byline: today's tv With Sara Wallis

PICK OF THE DAY KOKO: THE GORILLA WHO TALKS TO PEOPLE BBC1 8.30pm LEONARDO DI CAPRIO is a huge fan, she's great with kittens, and she can hold a perfectly decent conversation - meet the gorilla who was raised as a human.

Koko, the 44-year-old, 20-stone western lowland gorilla, was 'borrowed' from San Francisco Zoo shortly after she was born by American university student Penny Patterson.

Penny, then 24, was studying animal communication and wanted to see if she could teach Koko sign language. And Koko took to talking, like er, a monkey to a banana.

The now world-famous gorilla has since lived in a mobile home in California, can sign 1,000 words, and has formed an incredible bond with Penny.

With access to decades of footage (2,000 hours we're told), this heart rending documentary is packed with astonishing moments such as Koko sweeping floors, cuddling kittens, meeting celebrities, and even riding a bike. On her recent birthday, she even blew the candles out on her decorated cupcake before opening a sack load of gifts.

There have been Koko toys, Koko credit cards and even a hit children's book, Koko's Kitten. But Penny's project has also shown how apes not only communicate with us using sign language, but share deep thoughts and feelings.

"Everyone as a child has that Dr Doolittle moment when they wonder, 'If only we could talk to animals?'" says Penny, now 69. "I wondered how human can a gorilla be?" Part scientific record and part home video, this film charts the dramatic moments of Penny and Koko's life together as Penny continues to care for her. And whether or not you believe in Koko's abilities, you cannot fail to be charmed...


Koko cradles a kitten

A tender moment between Koko and Penny

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jun 15, 2016
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