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Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

AP Associated Press

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CALIFORNIA — Koko, the beloved gorilla who was able to communicate in more than 1,000 signs, has died at 46 in California’s Santa Cruz mountains on Tuesday.

The Gorilla Foundation said the 46-year-old western lowland gorilla died in her sleep at the foundation’s preserve.

Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo, and Dr Francine Patterson began teaching the gorilla sign language that became part of a Stanford University project in 1974.

Koko was taught sign language from an early age as a scientific test subject and eventually learned more than 1,000 words, a vocabulary similar to that of a human toddler.

She became a celebrity who played with the likes of William Shatner, Sting, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Williams and Mr Rogers.

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At her home preserve, where she was treated like a queen, she ran around with Williams’ eyeglasses and unzipped Roger’s famous cardigan sweater.

The foundation said Koko’s capacity for language and empathy opened the minds and hearts of millions.

“Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication,” the Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.

“She was beloved and will be deeply missed.”

Koko appeared in many documentaries and twice in National Geographic.

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Syria ‘accidentally shot down’ Russian spy plane during Israeli attack

Gorkha Post

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Russia’s defence ministry said one of its military surveillance aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens over the Mediterranean at the same time as Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria.

“Connection has been lost with the crew of a Russian Il-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea,” the ministry said. Contact was lost at about 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Monday, it added.

There are conflicting reports as to who is responsible for the downing of the aircraft, however the US claims it was accidentally shot down by the Syrian regime’s anti-aircraft artillery after the Syrians came under fire by Israeli missiles.

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A US official said Washington believed the aircraft, the turbo-prop plane used for electronic reconnaissance, was inadvertently shot down by anti-aircraft artillery operated by Moscow’s ally, the Syrian Government.

Russsia’s Defence Ministry said the aircraft was returning to the Russian-run Hmeymim airbase in Latakia province when it disappeared from radar screens at about 11:00pm Moscow time.

The plane was over the Mediterranean Sea about 35 kilometres from the Syrian coastline, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

The fate of the 14 people on board the missing plane is unknown, and a rescue operation has been organised out of the Hmeymim base, the ministry said.

Agencies

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