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Monday, December 05, 2005

Simian Sexual Harassment Suit Settled

Lawyers for Koko the gorilla today settled out of court a sexual harassment suit filed by two former workers for the Gorilla Foundation of Woodside, California. The women claimed that Koko, a research ape who had been taught to use sign language, had created a hostile workplace environment by constantly signing to them “Show us your tits!”

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two women who had taken care of Koko, a gorilla who communicates with humans by sign language, have settled a lawsuit charging the president of its sanctuary urged them to show their breasts to the ape, a lawyer said on Thursday.

The two said foundation President Francine Patterson would interpret hand movements by Koko as a demand to see human nipples. They declined and were later fired in an act of retaliation for not indulging what the lawsuit called Koko's "nipple fetish."

The amount of the award was undisclosed, but legal experts estimate it may have reached the mid six figures (in bananas.)

Apparently, this type of wild behaviour was de rigeur at the Gorilla Foundation lab for at least 14 years.

Koko and an unidentified Gorilla Foundation intern in 1996

After the court proceedings, however, lab officials were stunned to discover that Koko, previously thought to belong to the species Troglodyte Gorilla, was actually Steve Randall, 39 of Oakland, California. Mr. Randall, who was taken into custody by Woodside police on charges of fraud and trespassing, had apparently been dressing up in a gorilla costume to surreptitiously film women in various states of undress and to get free bananas.

“I can’t believe I got away with it so long,” Mr. Randall said. “How difficult was it to figure out? I mean, a monkey talking sign language? Give me a f*cking break!”


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