Koko, the famous gorilla who learned sign language, has died.
The Gorilla Foundation announced the news on Wednesday. According to the organization, the primate passed away early in her sleep Tuesday morning.
"Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy," the organization stated in a press release. "She was beloved and will be deeply missed."
According to The Gorilla Foundation, Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo on July 4, 1971. Her full name is Hanabi-ko, which is Japanese for "Fireworks Child." Dr. France "Penny" Patterson started teaching her sign language the following year and eventually moved the western lowland gorilla to Stanford in 1974. There, with Dr. Ronald Cohn, she started The Gorilla Foundation. Per the organization, Koko and the Foundation moved in to the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1979, where Koko and her fellow primates, Michael and Ndume, served as ambassadors for the species.