The one and only Ivan

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The one and only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

Ivan at the Atlanta zoo

The Mall in Tacoma, Wa where Ivan lived (B&I)

Ivan and his twin sister Birma

Ivan Freed:March 16, 1995 marked the date that Ivan, an endangered western lowland gorilla, first set foot on real grass in almost 30 years.In 1987, after becoming aware of the plight of this highly social animal, who had been confined alone to a 14' x 14' concrete cell for more than 27 years, PAWS began a campaign to free Ivan. It took more than seven years. Ivan, who had been imported to the US from then Zaire by owner of B&I Shopping Center in Tacoma in 1964, had not seen another gorilla since the death of his infant sister Burma in that same year.A community ralliedThousands of members of the Tacoma/Seattle community got involved to help make the campaign to free Ivan a success—they collected signatures for petitions calling for his release, donated money to PAWS for the placement of newspaper ads, and took part in protests and boycotts. They even helped PAWS to raise a $30,000 "offer" in exchange for Ivan's release to Woodland Park Zoo.Ivan, PAWS and the citizens of Tacoma/Seattle got a boost to their cause in 1991, when National Geographic Explorer aired a documentary entitled "The Urban Gorilla" that contrasted shots of a sad, lonely and listless Ivan with shots of Willie B., another lowland gorilla shown taking his first tentative steps outdoors in Zoo Atlanta's natural gorilla habitat after 27 years of his own solitary confinement. Ivan's story was covered across the nation, from People Magazine to the New York Times.Victory at lastIn 1995 our efforts finally paid off. Thanks to scientists from Woodland Park Zoo and the Gorilla Species Survival Plan, Ivan was eventually gifted to Woodland Park Zoo, who then agreed to permanently loan Ivan to Zoo Atlanta, the place best fit to care for him. Ivan is an intelligent, inspirational, and gentle giant who is greatly enjoying his life at Zoo Atlanta. He has become one of the zoo's "star" attractions after successfully overcoming the emotional and physical damage caused by his years of confinement. Ivan delights guests of Zoo Atlanta with his paternal antics and tendencies to cover his head with a burlap sack to express his disapproval of rain.Ivan's case is a shining example of the amazing change a caring community can inspire. His story now teaches kids in our community that they truly can make a difference in the lives of others.

Ivan Growing Up:For 27 years, from 1967-1994, Ivan was the most famous resident of the B & I Circus Store, in Tacoma. Store owner Earl (E.L.) Irwin purchased Ivan and another infant gorilla from an animal trainer in the Congo in 1964. The pair were intended to publicize the B&I. The female Western Lowland gorilla died soon after arrival, but Ivan became a favorite of the Irwin family and took up residence at their house. By 1967, Ivan's strength, natural curiosity and playfulness ruled him out as a house pet and he went to live at the B&I full time

Ivan's Painting

Author explaining the story of Ivan


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