Ivan Lee Johnston™ was a Silverback Western Lowland gorilla from the Democratic Republic of Congo on the African continent. He was brought to our world as a young infant and for the first few years of his life he was raised by a human family in Tacoma, WA. Once he had grown too large to be cared for in a human household, his new home had then become the B&I Circus Store.
Through the 1960’s to the 1990’s Ivan had been a friend to many in his Tacoma community, his personality and sense of humor will always be fondly remembered by those who knew him. Although he had garnered many friendships during his time at the B&I, he had lived a solitary life for a species that thrives on being part of a community. In the mid 1990’s his caretakers had to make the difficult decision to move Ivan to Zoo Atlanta, the foremost center in the United States with the experience in the care of Western Lowland gorillas. It was here that Ivan had lived the rest of his iconic life and had passed away at the age of fifty on August 20th of 2012.
Ivan’s legend offers many teachings about how our kind should offer more respect to the fellow species that call our world home. Their natural habitats are constantly threatened by human actions and more must be done to prevent his species from extinction. Ivan had an extraordinary life that was filled with many unconventional experiences for a gorilla, he has become an icon in literature, art and will now always be remembered by his monument that was dedicated to him on the steps to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA.