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These Photos Of Koko The Gorilla Mourning The Loss Of Robin Williams Are Incredibly Moving

The two met in 2001 and became fast friends. Robin Williams touched not just the lives of people, but also some of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

Posted on August 12, 2014, at 5:52 p.m. ET

In 2001, Robin Williams met Koko, the gorilla who communicates in sign language, at The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, Calif. The two immediately became friends.

The Gorilla Foundation / Via

"Koko instantly connected with Robin," said Dr. Penny Patterson, the foundation's president and the gorilla's foster mother. "Koko, like us, can sense a person's nature and in this case, she was quickly drawn to Robin's warm heart."

The Gorilla Foundation

The actor, who would later describe the meeting as "unforgettable," filmed a PSA with Koko for the foundation in 2004 to raise awareness of environmental threats to the species. Williams also accepted the post of honorary co-chair for the foundation's campaign to create the Maui Ape Preserve.

On Monday, Koko was with Patterson when news of Williams' death broke and phone calls started to come in.

"After the first call, Koko came to Dr. Patterson with an inquiring look on her face. Dr. Patterson explained that 'we have lost a dear friend, Robin Williams.'"

"Koko was quiet and looked very thoughtful," a spokesperson for the Gorilla Foundation said in a press release emailed in response to an inquiry from BuzzFeed.

The Gorilla Foundation

After overhearing an emotional conversation between Patterson and a colleague who had worked with Williams on his PSA for the foundation, Koko signed the words for "woman" and "crying."

"Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering."

The Gorilla Foundation

On Tuesday, the Gorilla Foundation posted a message of remembrance and a video of the actor's meeting with Koko to honor his life, "which was a profound gift to humanity — and to other great apes like Koko."

Dr. Patterson also shared her memories of the actor's visit. "Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over six months, ever since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael, passed away."

The Gorilla Foundation
The Gorilla Foundation

"Not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed — from a high-energy entertainer, into a mellow, sensitive, empathetic guy, who also happened to be really funny."

The Gorilla Foundation

Watch the heartwarming video of the actor's meeting with Koko.

View this video on YouTube

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.