Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Koko Kwiz

You know, I was aware that there are two famous people who make their homes in the neighboring town of Woodside, but I just found out there are actually three! Sure, we all know about Neil Young’s ranch, and that another 60’s icon, Joan Baez, also resides in Woodside. But do you know who else is proud to call Woodside home? Koko! Yeah, that “talking” gorilla we’ve been hearing about for years.

The truth is I hadn’t thought about the big guy (OK, gal) very much of late. In fact I wasn’t even sure if the super simian was still living. The good news is she is alive and well, and talking up a storm.

In case you’ve lived your life under a rock, Koko is a gorilla who allegedly can communicate through sign language. There has been great debate as to whether Koko has actually learned to use language or is simply signing for rewards without knowing what she is saying. I personally posed this question to Koko, who signed back the phrase “Get bent.” Remarkable.

That’s all I’m going to tell you about this amazing ape right now, because I don’t want to give too much away. After all, you have a quiz to take. That’s right, The Koko Kwiz! So good luck. You should have no trouble beating Koko’s score of 80%. After all, you are more evolved than a gorilla, aren’t you?

1. How old is Koko?
a. 28
b. 34
c. 46
d. 50

2. Where was Koko trained to use sign language?
a. Stanford University
b. Cal State Berkeley
c. University of San Francisco
d. Cal State Hayward

3. About how many hand signs does Koko know?
a. 50
b. 250
c. 500
d. 1,000

4. What animal has Koko kept as a pet?
a. Dog
b. Cat
c. Chimpanzee
d. Parrot

5. Recently Koko has been involved in what type of lawsuit?
a. Child Custody
b. Embezzlement
c. Noise ordinance
d. Sexual harassment

6. Where was Koko born?
a. Uganda
b. San Francisco
c. London
d. South Africa

7. When people visit, what does Koko often playfully grab?
a. Eyeglasses
b. Ties and scarves
c. Noses
d. Nipples

8. Koko will soon to be moving to a sanctuary located where?
a. Kenya
b. Tennessee
c. Hawaii
d. Neil Young’s backyard

9. What did Koko hold on April 27, 1998?
a. Press conference
b. Birthday party
c. Online chat
d. You don’t want to know

10. What has Koko indicated is her greatest desire?
a. Learn to speak English
b. Return to the jungle
c. Have a baby
d. Become governor of California


1. 34. Koko was born on July 4th, 1971, a week after I graduated high school. I’m not sure there’s a connection there.
2. Koko, unlike my Kaiser doctor, was trained at Stanford. The famous gorilla did not receive any training at Cal State Hayward, although she taught there for two semesters.
3. Koko knows 1,000 hand signs. That number goes up to 1,001 when someone cuts her off in traffic.
4. Koko has had several pet cats. I even have a Koko puppet around here somewhere with a tiny cat Velcro-ed onto her hand. Why, what kind of gifts does your wife give you?
5. SEXUAL HARRASSMENT Although Koko was not directly involved, several female former employees brought suit saying that they were “encouraged” by their employers to show their breasts to Koko to indulge her “nipple fetish.”
6. SAN FRANCISCO. Yes, of course at the zoo. Where did you think, at the Rice-A-Roni factory?
7. NIPPLES. Male or female, Koko loves them all. Did I mention she was born in San Francisco?
8. HAWAII. Yes, Koko’s moving to sunny, beautiful Maui. And you’re not.
9. AN ONLINE CHAT. I’ve seen some of the transcript from this chat. To the question “What is the name of your kitten?” Koko first answered “Foot” and then “No.” When asked, “Do you like to chat with other people?” Koko responded “Fine nipple.” Yeah that monkey’s a real whiz.
10. HAVE A BABY. What is with you chicks and babies anyway? Haven’t you ever watched Nanny 911?
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