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Koko the gorilla, famed for her fluency in American Sign Language and her ability to communicate clearly with carers, has long been regarded as a shining example of just how intelligent and perceptive animals can be. She has spent most of her life in The Gorilla Foundation, Woodside, Cal., alongside primary caregiver Francine Patterson.

The late, legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams once had an amazing encounter with Koko in 2001 … and she was reported to be deeply distressed when she learned of his death. The forty-four year-old gorilla has also demonstrated a great fondness for kittens, and has cared for several of them in the past. And now, The Gorilla Foundation has just released a new video in which she expresses her delight over her surprise birthday gift this year: a visit from a whole litter of kittens! It is impossible not to be moved by how gently and tenderly she interacts with these tiny creatures.

She was particularly drawn to two kittens named Ms. Gray and Ms. Black. The Foundation said, “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.” Midway through the video, be prepared to squeal with the cuteness of it all, when Patterson strokes Koko’s fur with a hairbrush and Ms. Gray tries to imitate the movement!

It is quite amazing to see the compassion and kindness with which Koko treats her kitten friends and this beautiful display just goes to show that animals have much more advanced and amazing abilities than we often give them credit for!