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Sign language gorilla Koko cuddles kittens for her birthday

By Ben Hooper
Koko the gorilla holds her "baby," a kitten named Ms. Gray. kokoflix/YouTube video screenshot
Koko the gorilla holds her "baby," a kitten named Ms. Gray. kokoflix/YouTube video screenshot

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REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The Gorilla Foundation in California shared video of famous sign language-speaking gorilla Koko's birthday encounter with a box of kittens.

Koko, a western lowland gorilla famous for her ability to communicate about 1,000 words in sign language and understand about 2,000 spoken English words, stars in a YouTube video posted by the Gorilla Foundation, the California nonprofit that cares for the primate.

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The video features Koko's encounter with a box full of kittens on her 44th birthday July 4. The gorilla appears immediately enamored with a kitten dubbed Ms. Gray and soon takes a liking to a second kitten dubbed Ms. Black.

The video shows Koko asking her trainer to place one of the small felines on her head.

The foundation said Ms. Gray and Ms. Black are now living with Koko as her "babies."

"Koko's maternal instincts turn on when she sees the kittens and cradles them in her arms," the foundation said on its website.

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