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Both of these adaptations allow us to produce the wide variety of sounds that comprise human languages.In a stroke of genius, researchers decided to try teaching apes an alternate, nonvocal way to communicate: sign language.

University of Nevada psychologists Allen and Beatrix Gardner adopted her in the 1960s.

Like Gua, Washoe was raised as a child: She had her own toothbrush, books, and clothes, and the Gardners took her for rides in the family car.

He raised Gua alongside his own human son, Donald, who was 10 months old when Gua arrived.

magazine wrote that the experiment seemed like a “curious stunt”; others were critical of separating a baby chimp from her mother or rearing a child with a chimp.

Dedicated researchers brought apes like Koko into their homes or turned their labs into home-like environments where people and apes could play together and try, often awkwardly, to understand each other.

The researchers made these apes the center of their lives. No new studies have been launched in years, and the old ones are fizzling out.

But conceding that the scientific jury is still out on whether gorillas are capable of sophisticated emotions doesn’t make headlines, and admitting the ambiguity inherent in interpreting a gorilla’s sign language doesn’t bring in millions of dollars in donations.

So we get a story about Koko mourning Robin Williams: a nice, straightforward tale that warms the heart but leaves scientists and skeptics wondering how a gorilla’s emotions can be deduced so easily.

Scientists tried raising other ape species as well: Chantek, an orangutan; Matata, a bonobo; Koko, a gorilla.

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