National Geographic : 1978 Oct
Representational art. After a talk with Penny about spiders, Koko takes a pencil and draws black squiggles on a piece of pa per (right). "Spiders," she explains. The orange scrawl, Koko says, portrays her drinking glass. As Penny tells the story of the three little kittens who lost their mittens, Koko com ments that their mother is angry and that the kittens are crying. Then she dramati cally signs, "Bad" (below). What does this abstract word mean to a gorilla? "When she breaks or steals some thing," Penny says, "I tell her that is 'bad.' Sometimes when I scold her she signs, 'Bad.' I've seen her rip up a toy and sign, 'Bad,' while destroying it." Other signs in Koko's repertoire of ab stractions: imagine, understand, curious, idea, gentle, stupid, boring, and damn.