There’s no creature too big or small to make an impact in the community.
Just ask Koko the gorilla, who recently became foster mom to kittens Bear, Mia and Vaida.
"[Interacting with Koko] definitely helps socialize them and make them less scared," said Julie St. Gregory of San Jose Animal Care Center in California. "When you have this giant gorilla holding onto you, you're not afraid anymore of most things."
She explained one of their regular fosters, who had taken in the trio of 2-month-old kittens, is also a volunteer with The Gorilla Foundation. Because Koko, who is known for her sign language skills, has had extensive experience fostering kittens, the shelter allowed her to introduce her kittens to the gorilla.
While Koko is only allowed to interact with Bear, Mia and Vaida under supervision, St. Gregory said the interaction is good for both the kittens and the gorilla.
"The kittens need fostering, and it's very stimulating for Koko," she explained. "After the kittens get bigger, she loses interest but she likes them when they’re little."
Koko, who has never birthed children of her own, has proven to have a strong maternal instinct by the way she takes care of other animals — especially kittens.
For her 44th birthday, Koko was gifted a box of kittens, two of which she was allowed to adopt.
Before that, Koko was the caretaker to a pair of cats for nearly 10 years until they passed away.
St. Gregory hopes Koko's interaction with kittens will encourage people to adopt or foster from their local shelters. Although Koko is helping foster three kittens at their shelter, she said they often have hundreds of kittens that need to be fostered or adopted at any given time.