December 1, 2005

U.S. lawsuit over ape’s ‘nipple fetish’ settled

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

Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller had sued the Woodside,
California-based Gorilla Foundation, claiming its president had
pressed them to bare their breasts for Koko to help bond with
the gorilla.

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 lawyer for the foundation said the two were fired for
different reasons and that a county court earlier this year
dismissed their sexual harassment and wrongful termination

Attorney Todd Roberts said the foundation agreed to settle
the lawsuit to get on with its work. Terms of the settlement
were confidential, he added.

"We denied all of the allegations in the complaint and
continue to deny the allegations," Roberts said.

Stephen Sommers, a lawyer for the two women, declined to
comment on the lawsuit and its settlement.