Francine Patterson

1978 Laureate, Science & Health
United States, Born 1947

Project Goal

Test the ability of gorillas to learn and use human sign language

Location: United States

"[African children] should grow up knowing how much the gorillas are like us."

Dr Francine Patterson’s 25 years of continuous effort to communicate with gorillas has uncovered astonishing linguistic creativity among these primates. Now, in the hope of helping save the last gorillas in the wild and bringing zoo animals closer to their natural habitat, her Gorilla Foundation is planning to set up a 70-acre preserve in Hawaii.


words in American Sign Language (ASL) a gorilla named Koko learned in four years


Koko's score in a human intelligence test (100 is an average score for people)


free-living mountain gorillas in the world in 1997

Other 1978 Laureates