Robins Williams got Koko to smile for the first time in 6 months when the pair met in 2001.
Koko the Gorilla has died, but her memory is alive in the hearts of her fans, many of whom are celebrities.
In her 46-year life, the primate met numerous famous faces (and furry ones) at her home with The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California. Often, it appears, it was the human celebrities who left the encounter starstruck, not the other way around.
Like everyone else who learned about the impressive primate, the stars who had quality time with KoKo left amazed by her capacity to communicate, understand and feel.
Koko seemed to have a knack for leaving this world and all the people she encountered within it a little bit better than before.
Take a look at a handful of the celebrities she met and how she amazed them.
Koko met the late comedian in 2001. According to The Gorilla Foundation, Williams got Koko to smile for the first time in the 6 months following the death of her gorilla companion Michael. “The effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed — from a high-energy entertainer, into a mellow, sensitive, empathetic guy, who also just happened to be really funny,” the non-profit said of the meeting. When Williams died in 2014, Koko became somber after hearing the news.
The Gorilla Foundation often played Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood for Koko and it became one of her favorite shows. So it was a special moment when Fred Rodgers visited the gorilla for the program. During their meeting, which demonstrated to children that there is more to people and animals than their outside appearance, Koko showed Rodgers what love is and complimented his cufflinks.
As a member of The Gorilla Foundation’s Board of Directors, White had been a supporter of Koko for years when she first met the primate in person in 2004. Koko was also fond of White after watching numerous episodes of The Golden Girls. The pair got along instantly with Koko inviting the actress into her living space and showing the star her favorite things. “It’s a privilege granted to very few people. She saves that for the very special,” Lorraine Slater, senior development director at the Gorilla Foundation, told PEOPLE in 2011.
William Shatner recounts in his autobiography Up Till Now about meeting Koko and what an earnest and loving experience it was to be in her presence.
Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers stopped by The Gorilla Foundation to teach Koko how to play the bass. The gorilla had no trouble getting a handle on the instrument and was soon strumming it on her own.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Peter Gabriel and Sting
In a special about Koko, Koko: The Gorilla Who Talks, PBS touched on some of the other celebrities lucky enough to be brought into Koko’s inner circle. Among them is Leonardo DiCaprio, a long time animal advocate and environmentalist.