The Celebrity Encounters of Koko the Gorilla. For Her 43rd Birthday Today.

Koko the Goril­la, who cel­e­brates her 43rd birth­day today, keeps pret­ty down-to-earth com­pa­ny for a celebri­ty. While oth­ers court the paparazzi with their pub­lic canoodling and high pro­file Twit­ter feuds, Koko’s most com­fort­able hang­ing with non-mar­quee-name kit­tens and pals Pen­ny Pat­ter­son and Ron Cohn, the human doc­tors who’ve head­ed her care­giv­ing team for the past 41 years.

Her pri­va­cy is close­ly guard­ed, but there have been a hand­ful of times over the years when her name has been linked to oth­er celebs…

Above, actor William Shat­ner recalls how, as a younger man, he called upon her in her quar­ters. He was ner­vous, approach­ing sub­mis­sive­ly, but deter­mined not to retreat. “I love you, Koko,” he told her. “I love you.”

She respond­ed by grip­ping a part of his anato­my that just hap­pens to be one of the thou­sand or so words that com­prise her Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage vocab­u­lary. One that takes two hands to sign…

Their time was fleet­ing, but as evi­denced below, the con­nec­tion was intense.

Come­di­an Robin Williams also claims to have shared “some­thing extra­or­di­nary” with Koko. Their flir­ta­tion seems inno­cent enough, despite Williams’ NSFW descrip­tion of their encounter, below. (He under­cuts his cred­i­bil­i­ty by refer­ring to her as a “sil­ver­back”.)


Leonar­do DiCaprio is yet anoth­er famous admir­er to be caught on cam­era with Koko. Is it any won­der that she embod­ies all of the qual­i­ties he claims to look for in a poten­tial love inter­est: “humil­i­ty, a sense of humor and not a lot of dra­ma”? No word as to how the Titan­ic hunk mea­sures up against the qual­i­ties Koko looks for in a mate, though footage of their one and only meet­ing has been known to get fans fan­ta­siz­ing in the com­ments sec­tion: I wish I was that goril­la ;) lol I looooooooooooooooove u Leo”

From the lady’s per­spec­tive, Koko’s sweet­est celebri­ty encounter was almost cer­tain­ly with her favorite, the late chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion host, Fred Rogers. She removed his shoes and socks, he stud­ied her lips, love was a pri­ma­ry top­ic and yet their time togeth­er does not invite pruri­ent spec­u­la­tion. I can’t think of anoth­er human male as deserv­ing of her affec­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Plan­et of the Apes: A Species Mis­un­der­stood

Ayun Hal­l­i­day invites you to read her thoughts on anoth­er July 4 birth­day on Rewire Me. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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