Gorillas are extremely intelligent creatures, and the Gorilla Language Project (also known as Project Koko) proves it. This project began in 1972, when Koko the Gorilla was only one year old. After being in the study for about 40 years, Koko has surpassed any other non-human in her ability to communicate with sign language. She has a vocabulary of approximately 1,000 signs and can about 2,000 words of English when she’s spoken to. Koko also initiates many of her conversations with humans, and even tested between a 70 and 95 on the IQ scale. Not only can she understand basic human conversation, but the study has consisted of “spontaneous gorilla language use including invention of new signs and compound words, simultaneous signing, reference to time and emotional states, metaphorical word use, humor, definition, argument, threat, fantasy play, storytelling and moral judgment” along with many other aspects of human behavior.
Intelligence is defined as the capacity of the mind to be aware of what is occurring around us, and not only acquiring knowledge, but also putting it into practice. By testing self-awareness by using a “mirror test,” then gorillas are self-aware because Koko could recognize herself. Gorillas also use tools to solve problems, and even in the wild, they have figured out how to use medicinal plants to help cure their sicknesses.
Koko is also emotionally intelligent, as you can see in this clip by clicking on the following link. She played and cared for this little kitten, and even named him All Ball, because he reminded her of a ball. This shows the innate motherly side of her, but also the fact that she named the kitten shows her understanding of the human relationship between a mother and child, or even of a human and their pet. After All Ball tragically died, Koko responded like a human and grieved the loss of her kitten.