At 44, Koko the Gorilla Becomes Mom to Two Kittens

By Editorial Staff in Nature On 16th October 2015

#1 Koko is filmed signing 'cat' during the encounter. The gorilla's maternal and play instincts have apparently 'kicked in'

#2 This cradling motion is how Koko signifies the word baby, which she often signs, and carries her gorilla dolls the way gorilla mothers carry their babies

Koko was filmed being presented with a cardboard box containing the kittens, and taking a peek inside it, at the foundation's California base.

Despite her huge hands being the size of the animals, she was gentle with the tiny balls of fluff, carefully flicking a finger out to stroke them.

Footage shows Koko taking her time before attempting to pick one of the kittens up - as if allowing them the chance to acclimatize to her first.

She then scoops up a little grey kitten in her hand.

After bringing the cat up to her face to take a closer look, the gorilla strokes its belly with her index finger before tucking it under her arm for a cuddle.

Later, another little kitten is filmed desperately trying to get out of an animal carrier bag in order to snuggle up to the great ape.

The clip concludes with Koko gesturing for one of the cats to be placed on her head before later signing that the animals are her babies.

The adorable video was posted to YouTube via the kokoflix account and is further evidence of Koko's 'greatest wish' - to have a baby of her own

Information provided alongside the video states that the gorilla and two of the kittens are now part of one happy family.

According to Koko's trainer, the special ape is able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls 'Gorilla Sign Language'. Koko was also exposed to spoken English from an early age and is reported to be able to understand approximately 2,000 words of the spoken language.

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#3 In celebration of her 44th birthday, Koko the gorilla's trainer Francine Patterson, on behalf of The Gorilla Foundation, introduced her to some other babies - a litter of kittens. Above, Koko is captured on video scooping up a little grey kitten in her hand

#4 Koko gestured for one of the cats to be placed on her head - and so it was. She later signed that the animals are her babies

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#5 According to information provided alongside the video, which was posted to YouTube via the kokoflix account, the gorilla and two of the kittens are now part of one happy family. Above, Koko snuggles up to the grey cat, which she was particularly attached to

#6 Koko was presented with a cardboard box containing the kittens at the foundation's base in Woodside, California

#7 The gorilla stroked the grey cat with her index finger before tucking it under her arm and giving it a cuddle

#8 According to Koko's trainer, the special ape is able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls 'Gorilla Sign Language'. Above, staff at The Gorilla Foundation help the grey cat to brush Koko's furry coat during the adorable meeting

Writing alongside the video, the kokoflix account noted: 'Koko got her birthday wish this July 4th - not only did one kitten come to visit, but a whole litter.

'Koko fell in love with one, and the other fell in love with her. Koko has adopted these two kittens into her family, and it has energized her world.

'Not only have Koko's maternal and play instincts kicked in, but she is signing more to her caregivers and generating new content every day that can be used by The Gorilla Foundation to create empathy for great apes.'

The foundation noted that new content can have significant benefits to both endangered free-living great apes and those in captive environments.

And that it encourages the development of two-way communication with their caregivers, something that Koko has had since she was a baby.

Koko, who was born at San Francisco Zoo, has spent most of her life at The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside.

According to the foundation's website, she spent a lot of her time with two male gorillas - but did not initiate mating with either. She formed a 'sibling relationship' with one, which died in 2000, and is yet to show interest in mating with the other, despite getting along with them 'very well'.

She is also living in an unnatural social situation - and attempts to bring other female gorillas into the family have apparently failed.

#9 Koko was exposed to spoken English from an early age and can apparently understand 2,000 words of the spoken language

#10 The grey cat is seen snuggling up to Koko, who does not have babies of her own but has previously signed she would like some

#11 Little kittens were filmed desperately trying to get out of an animal carrier bag in order to snuggle up to the great ape Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3273726/Meeting-mummy-time-Koko-gorilla-adopts-two-baby-kittens-cuddles-fondly-heart-warming-footage.html#ixzz3oiZVxQVu Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on FacebookLittle kittens were filmed desperately trying to get out of an animal carrier bag in order to snuggle up to the great ape

#12 In 2001, Robin Williams visited the Gorilla Foundation and quickly befriended Koko, making her laugh for the first time in six months