A PSA featuring Koko the gorilla signing a warning to humans about...

A PSA featuring Koko the gorilla signing a warning to humans about climate change is essentially nothing more than a staged commercial.

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If you want an audience to take heed of what you have to say, sometimes the messenger who delivers it for you can be just as important as the message itself. Depending on the nature of your communiqué, you may find it has a much greater impact on your intended audience if it is conveyed a a sympathetic figure who can tug at people’s heartstrings (e.g., a child, a Native American, a mother, a veteran) or a respected figure whom viewers perceive as knowledgeable about the subject at hand (e.g., a judge, a policeman, a college professor).

A messenger who brought both those qualities to the table was Koko the gorilla, a primate who purportedly understands approximately 2,000 words of the spoken human language and can communicate her thoughts to humans via her use of more than 1,000 signs of what ‘Gorilla Sign Language’ (a modified version of American Sign Language). In 2015 two non-profit organizations, the Gorilla Foundation (who oversee Koko’s care and training), and NOE Conservation (who seek to safeguard biodiversity), teamed up to produce a Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring Koko in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as the COP21 Climate Conference) held in Paris in December of that year:

Written by David Mikkelson
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