Robin Williams Made a Gorilla, Who Was Mourning Death of Her Friend, Laugh Again After 6 Months

Robin Williams Made a Gorilla, Who Was Mourning Death of Her Friend, Laugh Again After 6 Months

Robin Williams was that guy who could walk into the saddest room in the world and leave everybody in stitches. It’s no surprise that six years after his passing in 2014, the “King of Improv” is still remembered as one of the funniest people in the entertainment industry. Williams was a truly iconic actor, comedian, singer, and one of the few people in the world who could flawlessly play out several characters with different voices all by himself. A forever legend!

A recently resurfaced video of Williams from 2001 shows how far-reaching his talents were, even to the point of cracking animals up. Williams had been invited to the Gorilla Foundation in California to cheer up a female gorilla, Koko, who had lost her best friend and playmate six months earlier. Koko is an incredibly smart gorilla who understands the English language and uses a version of the American Sign Language to communicate. She hadn’t been doing well since her friend passed and her caregivers invited Williams to try to make her happy.

In an interview with Today shortly after the unique encounter, Williams described the experience as mind-altering, stating that he’d had an instantly genuine connection with Koko. It was incredible because she could understand him and could sign her feelings and responses back. 

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.

Koko hadn’t been that happy in a long while

The heartwarming video shows the ever-cheerful Williams sitting on a chair waiting for his host (Koko) to come out. When she finally emerged, she grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the chair to sit on the floor with her. It was such a touching moment when she held his hand to her nose for a while, taking in the scent of him, probably trying to decide his vibe. Williams just sat still, mesmerized by the almost-human acts of the animal.

When she was comfortable enough, Koko settled into her playful self and yanked off Williams’ glasses. She made Williams tickle her and even rifled through his wallet, probably trying to screen his ID and confirm that he was the real deal. Smart girl.

The duo played, laughed, crawled around in Koko’s room, and they both seemed intensely curious about the other. Williams wanted to know what she was thinking, and Koko seemed like she wanted to figure him all out in one meeting. 

According to Koko’s caregiver, Dr. Penny Patterson, Williams had pulled Koko out of the dark place she’d been in for six months. “Notice that Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over six months, ever since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael, passed away at the age of 27.

In a tribute post to Williams, the caregiver added, “Robin’s ability to just ‘hang out’ with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable. But not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed.”

Koko had kissed his hand when it was time for their meeting to end and wrapped him in a warm, big hug.

The gorilla was hurt by Williams’ passing

The meeting had struck such a special chord in Koko’s heart that when she overheard her caregiver talking about Williams’ death, she became “extremely sad.” Patterson told Today that she even signed the word “cry” with her hands.

The photo below was taken after Koko learned of her friends’ death. “Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering,” her guardians wrote.

Williams had lived an inspiring life, and he was one of the people who proved irrefutably that laugher is the best medicine.


  1. Robin Williams Biography. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  2. Koko the gorilla mourns the loss of her special friend, Robin Williams.” Today. Laura T. Coffey. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
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