Koko, movie star with an IQ of 90

She dreamed of talking to animals and she did! In 1971, Francine Patterson, an American, was visiting the San Francisco zoo when she stopped before the cage of a baby gorilla. This moment that would develop into a beautiful story is that of Koko, a gorilla considered to be the most intelligent animal in the world. A psychology student then, Francine Patterson wanted to study the language of apes in connection with her graduate studies.

Time passed and she ended up devoting her whole life to the study of apes. Thirty years later, Koko speaks English, and even if she still doesn’t have an Oxford accent, she understands nearly 2000 words in everyday language, as well as hundreds of expressions in sign language.

With the help of pictographs representing different emotional states, Koko can follow a conversation and even argue. In order to silence scandals that hounded this no ordinary gorilla, Koko took an IQ test wherein she obtained a surprising score of 90 points. This is close to what we consider as the average score of human beings (100 points).

This work, which was conducted for many years, has been a breakthrough for further studies on the intelligence of gorillas. Francine Patterson was able to show that apes possess practically all aspects of human behavior in a less developed scale. When we know that the genetic make-up of man is 95% similar to that of a monkey, we get a better understanding of Koko’s extraordinary abilities. Anthropomorphism? In certain countries, people wonder whether gorillas rightfully belong to the zoo. In New Zealand, a law had been passed recently which protects gorillas from illegal detention and scientific experimentations.