Of all the animals taught to talk, Koko the talking gorilla was the most adept at actually communicating something other than I want food or I need to take a shit.
Alex the grey African parrot could ask for things, and those dolphins that worked for the U.S. Navy for a time could communicate complex concepts through clicks and squeaks. But Koko–who didn’t talk, but rather, spoke in modified sign language–could say things. Because, of all the talking animals, Koko was the one best able to convey the condition of being an animal in captivity taught just enough words to be miserable. Koko sad.
Koko had a boyfriend named Michael. Michael was a gorilla who had been taught to paint. Most of his paintings were lines and shapes that might, with some interpretation on the part of the viewer, relate to things in their enclosure, but might also just be nothing. Some where clearly of something. One time he painted what was, clearly, a representational image of a dog. That one was the one everybody liked. That one was taken away from him and made into posters, and sold in the gift shops.
Then he painted another one. This one consisted of more lines; more shapes. This one, Koko knew, was drawn from memory. She knew this because it lived in her memory, too.
This one was a map.