National Geographic : 1978 Oct
sink. Koko couldn't know, of course, that I would never accept the idea that Kate would go around breaking sinks. Some of Koko's lies are startlingly inge nious. Once, while I was busy writing, she snatched up a red crayon and began chew ing on it. A moment later I noticed and said, "You're not eating that crayon are you?" Koko signed, "Lip," and began moving the crayon first across her upper, then her lower lip as if applying lipstick. A Sense of Past and Future Gradually Koko is acquiring signs that make reference to past and future. One day during a filming session she signed, "First pour that," as I was preparing milk for her. "First that yes!" I exclaimed, delighted that she had used the sign "first." Just as I began to sign, "Then you drink," Koko signed, "Later Koko drink." More recently she has begun to use the sign "later" to postpone discussion of possi bly unpleasant subjects. "Tell me about what you did," I demanded one day. "Later. Me drink," was Koko's reply. She under stands other words referring to the future. One bright morning that followed weeks of rain, I told Koko that if it was still sunny during the afternoon, I would take her out. When I arrived at three o'clock, she looked out at the still-bright weather and collected her gear to go outside. In sign-language experiments with chimps, the animals learned to draw on dif ferent gestures to describe a new object or event. Dr. Roger Fouts, at the University of Oklahoma, noted that chimps could de scribe objects for which they had no sign: Washoe, for example, once called swans Having a quiet chat-with herself- Koko signs, "Eye," while looking at a pic ture of a big-eyed frog (left). Such private musing is part of a pre-bed ritual. Scanning the first issue of Gorilla, a newsletter of the foundation set up to pro vide financial support for the project, Koko points to pictures of Michael (right, from top) and of herself. The Gorilla Foundation's mailing ad dress for membership information is P.O. Box 2003, Stanford, California 94305. "THINK" "THAT" "MICHAEL" "ME"