Koko the gorilla is turning 40, and the Gorilla Foundation wants you to help her celebrate by tweeting about this famous creature in haiku form. If you’ve got a bit of poetic talent, try writing a little 17 syllable tweet that honors the gorilla who can speak to us in sign language.
Koko is really an amazing animal. She has learned how to speak to us using American Sign Language, and can express complex ideas. She even has three wishes for her birthday: to have a baby, for people to be “polite” to gorillas, and for the creation of a tropical safe-haven for gorillas in need.
If you haven’t seen Koko in action, check out some videos of her speaking to the folks at the Gorilla Foundation on Koko.org. Watching her play with kittens and try on sunglasses is an amazing experience.
The Twitter haiku contest for Koko’s birthday runs from now until June 30th, with the winning submissions announced on July 4th, Koko’s birthday.
To enter, you must write a poem about Koko that follows the haiku format – 17 syllables with three lines of 5-7-5 syllables each, separated by a period, comma or slash. Tweet your haiku to @kokotweets and include the hashtag #kokohaiku.
There are Koko-related prizes for the first three winners, including a reproduction of a painting that Koko did called “Love”, a signed book and DVD set about Koko, and an adorable Koko plush doll.
And here’s a closing quote from Dr Francine “Penny” Patterson, Koko’s mentor, if you thought gorillas didn’t get as excited as we do about birthdays:
“Each year Koko helps plan her birthday menu. Lately, she’s been dropping hints about her upcoming party and presents using her communication cards including ‘Happy Birthday,’ ‘Cake,’ and ‘Party Party Party.'”