Betty White Has Emotional Reunion With Koko The Gorilla

Betty White may be just seven years shy of her 100th birthday, but that isn’t stopping her from taking on new projects.

The veteran actress will appear in Betty White’s Smartest Animals in America on January 17–which just happens to be her 93rd birthday–to show us some of the most intelligent, exotic creatures around the world. White has been a longtime advocate for animals and has been honored for her work with the Morris Animal Foundation, which supports science and veterinary medicine.

“With all the smart animals we’ve met — the more we take time to learn about them, the more we realize how amazing they really are. Any excuse to be around animals, I’ll take it!” White said in a recent statement.

White will reportedly be reunited with Koko the gorilla during the special; the duo formed a special bond when they met in 2004. Koko, well-known for being the first animal ever to communicate with humans when she learned sign language, was already a fan of White’s after watching shows like The Golden Girls.

“She has a fairly extensive library of DVDs, and she knows which are which. If she particularly likes something, she’ll say it’s good. A lot of times, if it’s getting to a sad part, she’ll just turn it off. Pretty Woman has always been one of her favorite films and she tends to watch things over and over again,” said Lorraine Slater, senior development director at the Gorilla Foundation.

Koko gave White a tour of her living area, a rarity reserved only for the most special people in Koko’s life, and the two of them talked that afternoon like old friends.

“Betty, for her part, was thrilled. She just talked to Koko as though she were a friend, and they got along famously,” said Slater.

To see the reunion, catch Betty White’s Smartest Animals in America on January 17 at 8 p.m. on Great American Country.

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