The art of communication has been practiced by many people in many different ways. However, one individual by the name of Francine Patterson has focused on a unique study that has received national and international attention. Patterson has chosen to make her professional life a study of communicating with gorillas and doing what she can to prevent their extinction in this world. Her interest in this activity began as a graduate student at Stanford University, where she received her Ph.D. degree in Developmental Psychology. It has continued since her university days at Stanford, and resulted in the longest study of interspecies communication that exists so far.
Patterson’s philosophy suggests that we can learn much from communicating with gorillas, and that it will be beneficial to them, and to ourselves as well, if such efforts are made. Her work is especially beneficial to linguistic scholars who are attempting to study the links between species. However, in addition to studying communications with gorillas she is also interested in preserving their presence in the world for all to enjoy and to study. Patterson’s efforts to study and to maintain the existence of the gorillas have received recognition. She has been able to publish a number of books dealing with gorillas and has received various noteworthy awards. In 1997 she was chosen as a Kilby Foundation Laureate by the Gorilla Foundation in honor of her long and continuous efforts regarding primate linguistic abilities.
Today, she continues her work by serving as Chairman of the Board for the Gorilla Foundation and is working toward the accomplishment of a preserve in Hawaii for gorillas. She is also a Board member of ApeNet, which is a group of foundations interested in studying communication regarding these animals. Patterson has also found time to serve as Editor in Chief of “Gorilla,” a Foundation journal. As you would expect, she is the author of a number of books that provide useful information about her specialty.
- Patterson, F. (1981). The Education of Koko. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- Patterson, F. (1985). Koko’s kitten. New York: Scholastic.
- Patterson, F. (1987). Koko’s Story. New York: Scholastic. Patterson, F. (1999). Koko-Love! Conversations with a signing gorilla. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.