Apparently Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson and the Gorilla Foundation are bringing Michael, Koko’s former gorilla non-companion, back from the dead for yet another round of exploitation, this time in the form of an Ebook announced in a rather bizarre recent press release (of sorts) from “World Reader”. The Gorilla Foundation shared this announcement via social media, trying to ride the wake of their recent documentary publicity I suppose.
Conservation Through Storytelling
August 3, 2016 By Danielle Zacarias
“Today Worldreader is proud to announce the addition of two books to our collection from the Gorilla Foundation: Koko’s Kitten and Michael’s Dream, true stories which together paint a terribly familiar portrait of sorrow in the aftermath of tragedy. In the first book we meet Koko, the Gorilla, who takes gentle care of a tiny kitten she names All Ball. When All Ball is hit by a car she is grief stricken. In the second we meet Michael who, when asked about his mother, uses American Sign Language to describe losing her to violence. Dr. Penny Patterson, who co-founded The Gorilla Foundation and who worked with Michael until his death at 27, thinks that Michael’s mother might have been the victim of poaching”.
There was no information provided in the press release on how one purchases the ebooks or when they may become available. Doing a search on the “World Reader” site nothing turns up for either ‘Koko’s Kitten’ or ‘Michaels Dream’. So perhaps the this was a premature release.
Patterson and her partner in primates, Ronald Cohn, may have a dream for Michael but how ‘Mike’ arrived on the scene was nothing short of a nightmare for him and an infant female gorilla named “B.B.”. Both were victims of an arrangement Patterson made with an “animal dealer” in Vienna, Austria to purchase two infant gorillas for a total of $28,000 usd. The female, listed as “B.B.” (for Bridgette Bardot) was intended to be Koko’s replacement at the San Francisco Zoo. Sadly B.B. died soon after their arrival from what would have been a long, stressful, and traumatic journey from Cameroon (see below). The male was called “King Kong” and renamed Michael.
While doing time at Koko’s camp Michael (according to Patterson) used ASL (American Sign Language) to share the details about how his family was killed by poachers during Michael’s capture thus beginning his nightmare into the gorilla trade. It’s quite remarkable that all these years later Michael would have an opportunity to tell his story to none other than Patterson, the person responsible for his departure from Cameroon. This is nothing short of a miraculous coincidence like no other. See video below from Kokoflix and further down you’ll see just how bizarre this story really is. You cannot make this stuff up.
Now if Michael’s story isn’t bad enough there’s a lot more than what he’s able to communicate in any video. Whether you believe Michael’s own story or not it’s likely he was in fact the victim of poaching. From the human side of this twisted tale there’s no doubting Patterson purchased Michael and “BB” from a “dealer” in Vienna for $28,000, I mean Patterson herself writes about it (see “Education of Koko” Patterson & Linden 1981).
Those are the facts but let’s put some of the pieces together, shall we?
- In 1976 Patterson desperately needed a female infant replacement gorilla for the San Francisoc Zoo so she could keep Koko all to herself. The SF Zoo wasn’t going to simply turn over Koko, a moneymaking female without a fight (gorilla babies = big $$$$ for zoos) and apparently not without a replacement
- Through her connections Patterson had incredible luck finding not one but TWO infant gorillas from a shady dealer dude in Vienna, for a price. The female would go to the zoo and Patterson would have the male all to herself
- Patterson’s Gorilla Foundation is all about conserving the gorilla species right? So what could possibly be wrong with buying two infant gorillas from a dealer in Vienna “with a long history of trafficking infant gorillas”?
- While doing time at TGF Michael managed to miraculously share a remarkable story interpreted by none other than Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson about how his family was murdered by poachers so that he could be sold and exported by a dealer in Vienna who just so happenened to have a customer in the U.S. waiting for an infant gorilla, or two
- Return to #1 and start over
See below from the International Primate Protection League, September 1977. Seems the officials were not too thrilled on how all this went down, but once again Patterson got her way, as always.
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And below we have the story in Patterson’s own words from “The Education of Koko” by Francine Patterson & Eugene Linden © 1981
From the book- “Then in 1976 Barbet Schroeder, the film director, put us in touch with an animal dealer in Vienna who was offering an infant female and an infant male gorilla for $28,000. When an animal dealer offers wild-born infants for sale, on can usually assume that the infants were “harvested” through the gruesome expedient of shooting the mother. In this case the dealer told us that he obtained the two gorillas in Cameroon, and that they were orphaned after natives had eaten their parents. We were in no position to verify this story about the gorillas’ provenance, and, ultimately, we overcame our qualms and decided to buy the two. The idea was that we could then give the female to the zoo as a replacement for Koko and keep the male to be Koko’s eventual mate.
This left the simple matter of raising $28,000 to pay for the two infants. Together Ron and I had enough money to put down payment on one gorilla. We still had a shortfall of about $21,000. At this point the media proved invaluable. Since the beginning of the project, my work with Koko had attracted a considerable amount of media interest. I would like to think that this attention derived solely from the awesome import of being able to converse with another animal, but I have had to accept that part of it centers on the supposed drama of a woman working with a “ferocious beast.” In any event, during the The Education of Koko by Francine Patterson & Eugene Linden © 1981 All signed words (those made in American Sign Language) are indicated in italics. 46 period when we were trying to raise the money to buy the two baby gorillas, I would mention Koko’s precarious future to the reporters who requested interviews. The local press took up my problems as a cause.
The two baby gorillas arrived on September 9, 1976. Their names were listed as King Kong and B.B, (short for Brigitte Bardot). We took it as our fist obligation to rescue them from their unfortunate names. King Kong we renamed Michael, but we never got a chance to rename poor B.B. The rigors of her travels proved to be too much for her frail constitution, and in spite of our desperate efforts to nurse her back to health, she died of pneumonia within a month of her arrival.” Click here for ‘The Education of Koko’ in PDF
Sadly, in 2000 at the age of twenty seven Michael passed away suddenly of heart failure.
Directly and indirectly, Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson and her Foundation perpetuated both Michael and B.B.’s nightmares and they should not be allowed to make a dime from Michael’s life. Of course there’s nothing stopping Patterson from doing exactly that. There’s no stopping her, there never has been.