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Robin Williams' Little-Known Role as an Animal Advocate


The late comedian and actor worked on behalf of dolphins, apes, and other wildlife.

August 12, 2014 By Todd Woody

Among the millions mourning the death of Robin Williams on Monday was Koko, a gorilla who communicates in sign language. Williams met Koko in 2001 at The Gorilla Foundation in Northern California, where the great ape managed to upstage the great comedic actor.

“Years later (on Aug. 11, 2014), Koko overheard Penny (Dr. Penny Patterson, Koko’s mentor and surrogate mother) talking on the phone about Robin, who had just passed away,” The Gorilla Foundation stated on its website. “She became extremely sad.”

“When you remember Robin Williams, remember that he is not only one of the world’s most beloved entertainers, he is also one of the world’s most powerful ambassadors for great ape conservation,” the organization said.

For his part, Williams called his conversations with Koko a “mind-altering experience.”

The encounter with Koko was just one of many efforts Williams made over the years on behalf of wildlife. In 2011, the actor appeared with other celebrities in a TakePart video to call attention to the annual slaughter of dolphins at the cove in Taiji, Japan, where the few survivors are sold to zoos and water parks.

“My friend doesn’t belong in captivity,” Williams says in the video. “The others are brutally killed.”

In 1995, the comedian narrated and starred in the PBS documentary In the Wild—Dolphins With Robin Williams. He followed the work of marine biologists and swam with Atlantic spotted dolphins in the Caribbean.

As with Koko, he attempted to communicate with his newfound dolphin friends.

“What’s up, my main mammal?” he asked a spotted dolphin.

Closer to his Marin County, Calif., home, Williams once made an impromptu appearance at a fund-raiser for the local humane society, jumping onstage to riff with another comedian.

“The Marin Humane Society is very sad to hear about the passing of Robin Williams,” the group said on its Facebook page on Monday. “In 2009, we were honored when he gave a surprise performance at our Woofstock benefit concert.”

We will all be mourning the loss of Robin Wiiliams.

Topic starter Posted : August 13, 2014 2:01 am
Trusted Member

There are not many actors I like enough to want to meet, and Mr. Williams was one of them.

Posted : August 13, 2014 2:46 am
Trusted Member

Too bad Robin Williams didn't help treat his mental illness and his alcohol and drug dependency with the now recognized therapeutic effects of a service animal. I am sure Whitney Houston might have benefitted simarly.

Posted : August 13, 2014 5:52 am
Trusted Member

I can't really believe he is dead.

I'd like to think he's just stuck in the jungle waiting to roll a five or an eight.

Posted : August 14, 2014 5:17 pm
Advanced Member

Advocate for human animals too. I attended a benefit at Comedy Works in Denver for a comedian who accidentally fell and both arms cut off by a train (Dr. reattached). The tickets were selling slowly and then Robin Williams signed up - sold out!

Posted : August 20, 2014 3:52 am
Trusted Member

Robin Williams Leaves Behind 4 Movies Including ‘Night at the Museum 3'

Beloved actor Robin Williams died Monday morning at age 63, leaving behind four completed films that are slated to hit theaters within the next 12 months.

Always game to entertain children, Williams reprised his role as Teddy Roosevelt in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which he already wrapped shooting and Fox is set to release on Dec. 19, allowing audiences to enjoy his comic gifts over the holidays.

Robin Williams Quotes That Will Stay With Us

"Do you think God gets stoned? I think so ... look at the platypus."

Posted : August 20, 2014 10:15 am
Trusted Member

Well this didn't take long, talk about disrespect for the dead: Pat Robertson calls Williams a heathen:

You are the heathen Robertson, and I pray you and your family die in a fire.

Posted : August 27, 2014 8:55 pm
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