Some female animals are motherly by nature when it comes to taking care of species that are unlike their own. Take for instance Koko the gorilla of The Gorilla Foundation in Redwood City, California.
The massive, but tender, animal has a thing for kittens she meets through the local San Jose Animal Care Center, and it’s one that will most definitely melt your heart. Koko has never had babies of her own, and yet, she has “a strong maternal instinct.”
The gorilla has a history of parenting several kittens into full-grown cats. For Koko’s 44th birthday, she was gifted a box full of kittens.
She was only allowed to choose two of those kitties to keep, and she helped nurture them into adult cats. They are both deceased now, but she raised them for almost a decade!
In more recent news, Koko was given foster care of three kittens named Vaida, Bear, and Mia. A video shot by the animal center and shared with Inside Edition, captured just how great of a “mom” Koko truly is when it comes to her love for cats.
“The kittens need fostering, and it’s very stimulating for Koko,” said one of the workers, Julie St. Gregory. “After the kittens get bigger, she loses interest but she likes them when they’re little.”
Bonding with cats is a prime example of one of the communication skills the foundation has cultivated through their Care and Wellness program. While under strict supervision, Koko is typically allowed to play with and love on the fur babies in her care.
“[Interacting with Koko] definitely helps socialize them and make them less scared,” mentioned Gregory. “When you have this giant gorilla holding onto you, you’re not afraid anymore of most things.”
American Sign Language is a major part of Koko’s communication process, especially when it pertains to kittens. An original Facebook post by the animal shelter, which has been liked more than 3,000 times, said, “She signs KoKo love, for each one she cares for.”
They later wrote: “Koko’s kittens Bear, Mia and Vaida will be brought back to [San Jose] ACC and will be available for adoption soon. After that we are counting on Koko’s help to temporarily care for more of our foster kittens.”
The San Jose Animal Care Center has partially used Koko’s fostering skills as a way to promote their adoption program. However, The Gorilla Foundation also hopes that Koko’s interaction with cat’s will help to one day establish the “conservation, care, and understanding” of our great apes.