Dr. Penny Patterson received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Stanford University where, as a graduate student in 1972, she began working with one-year-old Koko, a western lowland gorilla, thus beginning the longest ongoing interspecies communication study ever undertaken. For 30 years, Dr. Patterson has worked with Koko, who has advanced further with sign language than any nonhuman. Able to reveal her thoughts and feelings through the use of 1,000 gestural words, Koko provides unique insight into the mind of a gorilla.
In 1976, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Ronald Cohn, and the late Barbara F. Hiller established the Gorilla Foundation to benefit gorillas living in captivity and those struggling to survive in the rapidly disappearing African rainforest. Dedicated to the preservation, protection and propagation of gorillas and other endangered primates, the Foundation disseminates information about animal intelligence, gorilla behavior and psychobiology through its website (www.gorilla.org), journal, and scientific meetings and articles, and is currently developing a 70-acre gorilla sanctuary on the island of Maui, Hawaii.
The author of more than 40 publications including The Education of Koko with Eugene Linden, and the award-winning childrenâ€™s books, Kokoâ€™s Kitten and Kokoâ€™s Story, Dr. Patterson has earned numerous awards and honors â€” including National Geographic Society grants and the Rolex Award for Enterprise â€” for her work with Koko and fellow gorillas, Michael and Ndume.
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Books:Koko's Kitten, June 1987