June 18, 2022
The “COCO the TALKING GORILLA” Expertease

Where does an 800 pound gorilla talk? Any podcast it wants to. Heart-warming tales of a young girl gorilla coming of age in small town America.

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Where does an 800 pound gorilla talk? Any podcast it wants to. Heart-warming tales of a young girl gorilla coming of age in small town America.

Much love and many thanks to announcer Moira Quirk.

Your hosts are Clare Sera and Danno Sullivan

Say, love the show so much that you'd like to leave a review? We'd appreciate nothing more. Click here, and let your expert review-leaving begin!

Got a request for a special expertise? Leave us voicemail with your questions or comments. Over at the website, you'll see the little microphone floating in the bottom-right corner. That's where your expert voicemail leaving happens.


Much love and many thanks to announcer Moira Quirk.

Love the show so much that you'd like to leave a review? We'd appreciate nothing more. Click here, and let your expert review-leaving begin!

Got a request for a special expertise? Leave us voicemail with your questions or comments. Over at the website, you'll see the little microphone floating in the bottom-right corner. That's where your expert voicemail leaving happens.


[00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, our audience tonight is composed mostly of wild animals covers and Clare Sera. Since your friends with Coco, the talking gorilla, we thought we could probe your area of naturally. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animal lovers from north, south, east and west. Here comes expert Claire, Sarah. Hang on. Hang on, hang on. Is that you Claire or is that cocoa? The talking gorilla.

[00:00:45] That was me. I was actually teasing Coco because of course cocoa doesn't speak. in chimpanzee,

[00:00:52] so

[00:00:52] an, it's

[00:00:53] an inside joke.

[00:00:54] oh, you speaking chimpanzee to a gorilla.

[00:00:57] Oh, stupid, stupid Coco. Can't translate.

[00:01:01] I mean,

[00:01:04] Hey, thanks for inviting me to the podcast.

[00:01:07] it's great to have you here, Claire now is Coco the talking gorilla they're with you

[00:01:11] I am here with Coco at her little pad in just north of San Diego

[00:01:16] Oh, so I know there's the San Diego animal retreat

[00:01:21] there.

[00:01:22] sure. Yeah,

[00:01:22] or does cocoa have her own place?

[00:01:24] Coco has her own pad. It's a little, modernist overhang on a cliff, beautiful view of the Pacific ocean. She likes to hear the waves crashing

[00:01:34] so how long have you and cooker the talking gorilla? Been

[00:01:38] Cohabitating

[00:01:39] Yes. Coco habitating.

[00:01:40] We've been Coco habitating for the last 17 years.

[00:01:45] that sounds like a very friendly relationship to be co cohabitating with a gorilla. Is that safe?

[00:01:52] Is cohabitating with any other mammal safe Danno.

[00:01:57] with my ex-wife. Now I'll tell you that

[00:01:59] right

[00:01:59] All right. Can I hear it from the married couples out

[00:02:02] she has who? And she wasn't even a gorilla.

[00:02:06] when Coco and I are not married? I do. I just want to put, I don't want any male about.

[00:02:11] Yeah. You mean a letters?

[00:02:12] You know, communication is the centerpiece of any relationship between two humans, between a human and, uh, another species between two other species between a species that's like the same as the different species, but

[00:02:28] I would even say between me and this jolly comfortable Chesterfield I'm sitting on, I think any relationship is worthy of.

[00:02:35] I guess I would like to hear how you, how you communicate with your Chesterfield.

[00:02:42] I didn't mean to imply that there is actual communication going on between me and an inanimate object, but I do have a certain amount of respect for the provenance of this Chesterfield.

[00:02:52] I feel like the mini bottoms that have sat upon it, provide a certain burnish and trust history and charm

[00:02:58] well, it might be of some interest to your listeners that Coco and I are taking a trip to province in the spring.

[00:03:07] Provence in France or Providence in Rhode

[00:03:09] yes,

[00:03:10] Oh, around the world trip. It

[00:03:11] yes, we are visiting all the pro places.

[00:03:15] Yes. You're a pro pro

[00:03:16] as you should be. Coco is pro pro

[00:03:19] Oh, my gosh. Okay. We've got to just get it together.

[00:03:22] So Claire, I want to hear all about your, gorilla related world travels. It just sounds fascinating, but I do feel like we need to backtrack just a little

[00:03:30] bit for our listeners at home. you know, you and I are old enough to remember when Coco the talking gorilla was just a Coco, the not quite talking baby gorilla.

[00:03:38] Yes.

[00:03:39] could you just give us the overview. Of Coco's provenance, if we may. how did you form a relationship with Coco? How did Coco supposedly learned to talk?

[00:03:48] Well, I'm going to try and let go of your supposedly, inferred in that tone. because Coco does communicate.

[00:03:56] right.

[00:03:56] as you well know, cocoa uses, sign language

[00:03:59] to speak her wants and desires.

[00:04:02] you've put up some videos, it's wonderful to see this kind of communication going on, but what I've seen so far is cocoa seems to want a cocoa nut. I've seen Coco asked for some cocoa puffs.

[00:04:13] yep. Yes.

[00:04:14] seen Coco do that little S swirl around the ear to sort of indicate that someone has cuckoo.

[00:04:19] Coco's communication seems to be very, very limited. And for you to say that you're in a relationship that involves communication. I'm just not seeing the communication beyond asking for a cocoa nut.

[00:04:33] Um, because I think that if you don't mind me saying, you're interpreting one sentence one way. and this is, this is how it came about. When I started to visit, I first of course, came to cocoa. as a Gawker, I got my pass to the San Diego animal retreat area to

[00:04:50] And I went to go and stare at this freak of nature, you know, a gorilla

[00:04:55] I fully admitted Coco and I laugh about it now, but I was one of the ones that was there throwing nuts, sadder, I was with the crowd that was doing the taunting dances and

[00:05:08] Yeah.

[00:05:09] I mean, you know, I,

[00:05:11] this was a pretty extreme, anti Coco stance that you started with

[00:05:15] When I think back on it now I'm just so mortified, but she has a great sense of humor about it, but I just wasn't. I was a non-believer Danno

[00:05:23] So what tipped it for you, Claire? What, well, let me ask it this way. What was your first conversation with cocoa? The talking gorilla.

[00:05:30] my first conversation was , I I'm sorry. I fell in your cage. Please. Let me out, please. Let me out.

[00:05:34] Now, are you speaking with your mouth with English

[00:05:37] Yes. Yeah. I was in screaming in a panic. trying to climb the little, chicken wire cage that she's in I thought it would be so funny to get in there and get a picture. I was wearing a t-shirt that said, you

[00:05:51] know, yes. And pointing at her.

[00:05:55] Yeah.

[00:05:56] it was a big mistake.

[00:05:57] It was a big mistake that turned out to be the best, big mistake of my life.

[00:06:00] now, first of all, keep cocoa, read the t-shirt. Is she a reading gorilla?

[00:06:03] She can read signs. She, she could read the arrow that was pointed and she, she understood the likeness of the gorilla face of

[00:06:12] hers on the,

[00:06:14] so that was, that was actually signified on the t-shirt. but you probably was not insulted by the slogan. I'm with stupid

[00:06:20] Well, she wouldn't know that, but I also, this t-shirt also had a mirror built into it so that if she looked at it, she would know that she's the stupid one. That's implied on the t-shirt.

[00:06:31] That's wonderful though, because that's, that speaks so much of a human, like, just any person I think looking into the mirror of your eye with stupid. would be shocked, appalled and offended.

[00:06:42] yes, it's really offensive. so you are wearing the shirt specifically to talk to Coco, the

[00:06:47] talking gorilla.

[00:06:48] I really was. I, I thought I was showing the world how. all these shenanigans were.

[00:06:53] Yeah. So there you are. Locked away inside the cage with an enormous talking gorilla,

[00:06:59] who you have personally insulted personally? pelted with nuts now just asking Sheldon

[00:07:05] nuts.

[00:07:06] nuts. biggest of all the nuts

[00:07:08] Hard and pointy.

[00:07:10] pointy. And from Brazil, which is also part of her heritage.

[00:07:15] Oh, is she Brazilian?

[00:07:17] she it's part of her heritage.

[00:07:19] Oh, I see. also I don't, I don't really hear too well out of my right ear. I'm sorry.

[00:07:24] Oh, after she swatted you.

[00:07:25] Yeah, she, she did give me concussion and she did start to eat my.

[00:07:30] Oh, um, gosh, how did you get out of that?

[00:07:33] luckily, one of the other top enters that had come with me,

[00:07:37] they started taunting.

[00:07:39] So making fun of her Brazilian heritage,

[00:07:41] that sort of thing.

[00:07:42] And your face seems to be mostly healed up.

[00:07:44] That's nice.

[00:07:44] Thank you.

[00:07:45] So, that's really, you know, a meet, cute story as they say in the movie

[00:07:50] And my face was the meat.

[00:07:51] And now it's cute.

[00:07:52] thank you. but you know what a lot of people don't know is that Coco came to visit me while I was in the coma.

[00:07:59] oh, that's so wonderful.

[00:08:01] was in a coma for

[00:08:03] about six months.

[00:08:04] So. For that period. She was Coco the visiting gorilla.

[00:08:08] She was,

[00:08:09] now I don't want to get personal, but I'm just, I'm trying to picture the scene, at the nurses station in the hospital, when a gorilla opens the elevator and steps out. was there any trouble there? Was she a welcoming.

[00:08:21] You know, there started to be trouble. Of course. Um, she's large. She's loud. She smells, I don't know if you understand, the

[00:08:28] pungency.

[00:08:29] reminds me of my first wife.

[00:08:31] but she has a tremendous sense of humor. It's a charming, charming. She was wearing a t-shirt that says I want

[00:08:39] to see stupid.

[00:08:41] Now, having bitten off your face? Was she able to actually recognize

[00:08:44] well, she recognize my smell. I w even in the coma, I was still emitting terror and adrenaline and cortisol.

[00:08:52] You have that fear pungency.

[00:08:53] Yeah. I have the fear of pungency.

[00:08:55] So that was the beginning of your close relationship with Coco,

[00:08:59] hers was the first face I saw when I came out of the coma. She was looking down over me, on my hospital bed and I opened my one good eye and I saw this fuzzy, hairy face coming into view.

[00:09:14] so at some point through this bizarre

[00:09:18] and unpleasant, getting to know you phase

[00:09:20] between you and Coco, the talking gorilla, something shifted somewhere along the line. did she realize that you were no longer fit for human habitation?

[00:09:29] Is that how you came to be living with her in the pin?

[00:09:31] That, that you're speaking of the night where COVID. Broke me out of the hospital and, brought me to,

[00:09:37] the side of the building.

[00:09:38] like Fay Wray.

[00:09:40] I, I did, And she brought me to her home.

[00:09:44] She brought you back to San Diego.

[00:09:46] Back

[00:09:47] over the chicken wire fencing

[00:09:48] ironically the animal retreat where she has lived for all those years. Do not allow humans, if you

[00:09:55] can believe it to take up residency there. so now we were both homeless. We were homeless.

[00:10:01] This is where your story takes on monumental poignancy.

[00:10:05] Yeah.

[00:10:06] When I read about your adventures Hitchhiking up and down the highways of America's. Small towns, small town farmers stopping with a pickup truck as you , thumb down a ride. And then this gorilla runs out from the by the side of the road

[00:10:19] and hops in the back.

[00:10:20] Well, and it took us a while to get our routine down. Sometimes she would hitchhike with her thumb out and I would then dump into the back of the flatbed truck. sometimes she would wear the hospital gown and do

[00:10:32] that hitchhiking and

[00:10:34] I would be

[00:10:34] naked

[00:10:34] So you were really just trying everything you could just to, just to find a place to call home.

[00:10:40] Just to find a home. That's exactly right.

[00:10:43] You have in your memoirs, just this wonderful story in Coeurdalene when you stopped in at. Little Frankie's diner

[00:10:50] a turning point.

[00:10:51] Coco had learned to love coffee from you.

[00:10:53] She loved cocoa flavored coffee,

[00:10:56] mocha,

[00:10:57] no mocha,

[00:10:58] mocha.

[00:10:59] what happened there at little? Frankie's.

[00:11:01] well, a little Frankie's diner. you know, it's a little side of the road diner in cor

[00:11:06] d'Alene.

[00:11:06] It's wonderful. However, they are not into fancy elitist John.

[00:11:14] So they served, they served cocoa, regular Joe, and I thought, this is the

[00:11:19] end. This is the end.

[00:11:21] I'm starting to, exude some of that putrid smell. Just listening to this story.

[00:11:24] I saw in her eyes immediately, there was no cocoa

[00:11:27] in that coffee.

[00:11:28] no Mo Coco.

[00:11:30] This was just some plain Columbia, dirt water

[00:11:33] Oh, and that's so close to Brazil.

[00:11:36] She leaped up on the table. She banged on her chest,

[00:11:40] I thought she was going to leap from our table and grab little Frankie himself by his Cocos. That's not what happened. Danna

[00:11:48] Coco spoke her first words.

[00:11:51] that's when it happened. So she had not been caught with a talking gorilla up to this point.

[00:11:55] That's right.

[00:11:56] which is what I had been protesting with my fellow protesters,

[00:12:00] Oh, that's

[00:12:01] let's we would go and purchase. She's not She's not taught, it's not a talking gorilla. Let's not say this lies. That is lies, but on this day, on this day, imagine what she said.

[00:12:12] a slice of lemon merengue, please.

[00:12:17] Oh, because that's what she wanted. It's who she was. It's where she came from. It's where she was going. It was her mission statement, Danno in her name.

[00:12:27] It was everything summed up in one word.

[00:12:30] Now that explains why I feel like when I watch her communicate, it's the same dang word over and over. But like the, Mandarin or the, just one language where so much is implied in the intonation I guess I finally understand now that cocoa can say so many things that mean so many things and still only know one word.

[00:12:50] That's right. Danno. That's right.

[00:12:52] Wow.

[00:12:52] Who's with stupid now.