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AETN revisits the life of the world's most famous gorilla in 'Koko - The Gorilla Who Talks'

Posted 14 Aug 2018

It's been more than 40 years since Koko, the only "talking" gorilla in the world, captivated the public with her uncanny ability to communicate with humans. Her unique life, which she shared with Penny Patterson, the psychologist who adopted her as a baby, is revisited in-depth in the PBS and BBC documentary "Koko - The Gorilla Who Talks," which will air on the Arkansas Educational Television Network Wednesday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m.

"Koko - The Gorilla Who Talks" takes viewers back to 1971, when Project Koko started as Patterson's Ph.D. assignment to teach sign language to a baby gorilla. As Koko began to communicate with Patterson, an intense bond formed between them and the teacher transformed into both mother figure and companion for more than four decades. The public's fascination with Koko made her a star.

Koko's life has been filmed every step of the way; more than 2,000 hours of footage exist, capturing the dramatic moments, many of which appear in this film, including Patterson's battle to keep Koko from being reclaimed by the zoo where she was born, Patterson's clash with academic critics who doubt the validity of her claims, the founding of The Gorilla Foundation, and the image of Koko mourning the death of her kitten - a moment that brought her international fame.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network is Arkansas's only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through the distinct channels AETN PBS, AETN Create, AETN PBS KIDS, AETN World and AETN AIRS on SAP. Audiences can also watch on several digital platforms, and members with AETN Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at aetn.org. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).