Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks, and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Plus plan is $7.95 a month after 30 day trial. Upgrade or cancel anytime.
Fine Gorilla Person  By  cover art

Fine Gorilla Person

By: Lauren Ober
Narrated by: Lauren Ober
Try for $0.00

$7.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Episodes
  • Aug 25 2022
    Koko the gorilla was the defining animal celebrity of the '80s and '90s. But behind the fame of this sign-language-using ape lay a grim reality. On Fine Gorilla Person, host Lauren Ober unpacks the rise and fall of the world’s most famous gorilla, from her early days as a Stanford University science experiment to the failed schemes to make Koko a mother to the decades-long boondoggle to build a sanctuary for signing gorillas in Hawaii. Oh, and a lot of weird sexual stuff. An Audible Original produced by Topic Studios. The production company is Rowhome Productions.
    Show more Show less
    1 min
  • Aug 25 2022
    In the pantheon of famous animals—Rin Tin Tin, Mr. Ed, Grumpy Cat, to name a few—there was none more famous (at least for a time) than Koko the gorilla. She knew sign language, she befriended tiny kittens, she was both science experiment and cultural icon. As her reputation grew, Koko was touted as our missing link, our entreé into the soul of the animal kingdom. And for a strident, stubborn little ape, that was a lot to live up to.
    Show more Show less
    33 mins
  • Aug 25 2022
    Koko was born in the San Francisco Zoo on the Fourth of July, 1971. And Koko would have remained there with the rest of her gorilla troop if it weren’t for one woman—Francine (Penny) Patterson, a young psychology PhD. student looking for an ape for her doctoral project. Penny wanted to know: “Could gorillas learn sign language?” Koko would soon answer that for her. And in the brief but distressing history of ape language studies, Koko grew to become the most famous speaking ape of them all.
    Show more Show less
    30 mins

About the Creator and Performer

Lauren Ober is a journalist and podcast host. She is the host of the forthcoming show The Loudest Girl In The World from Pushkin Industries and iHeart Media. Before that, Lauren hosted Spectacular Failures from APMStudios. The show was one of TIME magazine’s top 10 podcasts of 2019 and has been downloaded more than six million times. Lauren also hosted and produced NPR's The Big Listen, a nationally distributed broadcast about podcasts. A proud Pittsburgh native, Lauren currently lives in the 51st state.

What listeners say about Fine Gorilla Person

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    16
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Very Poor Journalism

This podcast, Fine Gorilla Person. is highly questionable journalism. Lauren Ober is cynical and opinionated. She picks and chooses the “facts” that support her point of view. She focuses most of her attention on a former employee who worked at the Gorilla Foundation for only two of the more than forty years of the project’s existence. This employee’s perspective is presented in the podcast as factual. Lauren Ober has a limited sense of history as she seems not to realize that the 1970’s were a very different time than the 2020’s. The work of Dr. Patterson is trivialized and criticized despite the enormity of the projects success. This podcast criticizes contemporary accounts for commenting on young Penny Patterson’s appearance, and then criticizes Penny Patterson for looking old when she appeared at a conference in 2019 and throughout the podcast continuously implies that Dr. Patterson got her way by using her looks and charm on unsuspecting men. Lauren Ober is highly critical of the manner in which Koko was housed and fed. She criticizes The Gorilla Foundation for giving Koko too many supplements, and then criticizes them for not giving Ndume enough. She criticizes the staff for finding totally usable but discarded produce to feed Koko in the early days of the project by calling it dumpster diving, and then criticizes Penny for later over sanitizing the ape’s food. Lauren Ober criticizes The Gorilla Foundation for using celebrities to further Penny Paterson’s evil agenda, while this podcast makes a point of interviewing William Shatner who knew Koko for one hour. Because I worked at the Gorilla Foundation for many years with Koko, Michael and Ndume, I was asked to participate in this podcast and I agreed as long as this podcast did not have a particular pre-determined agenda. Lauren Ober told me, “We don't have a point of view as this is a 360-degree look at the life and times of Koko. This is a journalistic project..” This was false. From the very beginning of the first of the eight episodes of this podcast, it is clear that Lauren Ober disapproves of the Gorilla Foundation and its work. I was interviewed for many hours but was only quoted briefly out of context for sensationalist effect. Penny Patterson devoted her life to her work with Koko. When she began her project there were several language projects going on. Each of these ended badly for the apes involved when the projects were ended the apes sent to various facilities. Dr. Patterson NEVER abandoned Koko and the work of The Gorilla Foundation. Penny Patterson built a beautiful and spacious home for the gorillas. The apes were never abandoned or lonely or sad and miserable prisoners as this podcast would have you believe. Before Koko, it was believed that Man was the only animal capable of conceiving of things remote in time and space. Because Koko learned to communicate, we know for a fact that animals are capable of much more than was previously thought possible. This podcast would have you believe that Koko was abused sexually, and placed at physical risk, even though Koko lived a long ,healthy, happy life. Lauren Ober somehow thinks that Dr. Francine Patterson is some kind of Elizabeth Holmes bilking the public out of billions of dollars to support her own lavish lifestyle. Although the podcast makes clear that the Penny lives in a rented home and has worn the same lab coat for 50 years. When I asked Lauren Ober about the many inaccuracies of this podcast she said, “The facts are unimpeachable.” Many of her facts are demonstrably wrong. Although Project Koko was not without flaws, Dr. Patterson is brilliant and her work is extraordinary. This podcast is trying to sully that reputation and make a lot of jokes at the expense of this great life’s work.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gorilla Musings

Very interesting science adjacent story. Very well told by the author. Are animals legitimate study subjects and how might they be studied legitimately. We

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Exceptional story telling in a casual format

I loved the flow and pace of this story and how much I learned. The author is a clear speaker, although a couple scenes are busy, she apologized and prefaces those scenes whot some humor. she did a great job placing the reader in her own shoes as a writer in several moments.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Just fascinating!

Energetic presentation. Fascinating topic which totally held my attention. I will be seeing animals with a different perspective.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting and eye opening

This was a very intimate and revealing Expose into Koko's life. Ioved it! ya

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Not the Koko Story You Are Expecting

This is the story of Koko, the gorilla that learned sign language and touched the hearts of people across the world. Unlike the story you think you know, it’s a tale of abuse and isolation and an appalling lack of science. Reading it depressed me. We may never know what was really going on in Koko’s head, but the author, Lauren Ober, appears certain that her owner and caretakers were looking out for their best interests, not hers.