The Ivan Chronicles spotlight unreleased photos of our late friend. Each chapter is a shared memory by the ones that had known him best during his life.

Earl Irwin should not have purchased two gorillas in the early 1960’s nor should they have been for sale. Regulations during this era were limited & all zoos had participated in the unfortunate animal trade during this time.  Ivan’s tale, while complex offers many lessons that should not be ignored or dismissed but rather learned from. The fictionalization of Ivan’s life through certain mediums is a greater injustice to his memory than the blessing of truth his life had brought to us.  If our society is to learn from a historical event, then it should be accurate or the message is lost & therefore what was the point of his life if not to teach?
It is not the intent to sensationalize these images of Ivan’s past but to deny them only further promote the fiction.

Know his story through his past & Learn from his Legacy with each new chapter of the Ivan Chronicles.

Ivan Christmas

By  December 13, 2019 Beloved Ivan Press

Ivan Xmas

Throughout his time in Western Washington, Ivan the Gorilla® was adored by the area’s youth, especially during the Christmas season. The children of Madison Elementary in Olympia, WA decided to show their appreciation to Ivan’s friendship in the winter of 1985. While spending time in the bedroom of his 1600 square foot compound, the children & adults of Madison Elementary gathered for a special event, an Ivan Christmas.

A Christmas Tree for Ivan

The Children created custom paper ornaments, candy cane treats & popcorn garland to adorn Ivan’s Christmas tree, a banana or two hiding amongst the decorations. Carefully wrapped presents addressed to Ivan embellished the base of his tree, quietly waiting for their Ivan moment.

The Moment

As always, the children anxiously waited on the other side of the glass for Ivan’s arrival. Knowing something afoot, Ivan suspectingly sauntered into his main compound. Beholding the colorful lines of paper garland that draped festively about and the Christmas tree dedicated to him. After greeting the familiar audience with his signature playfulness. His attention quickly turned to the decorated tree, among the first, the popcorn garland, is this edible? One by one the moment for each present came to reveal the new treasures inside. A new soccer ball, a pair of 80’s fashion acid wash Jeans, tennis shoes, a carton of milk and a favorite stuffed animal, all new playthings for him to enjoy and perhaps destroy.

Heart of a Community

These moments reflected the true heart of a community, coming together during this wintery season for one goal, Ivan. Scores of children now grown will always reflect upon their own Ivan moments & carry with them his many lessons. As he once did long ago, he continues to change & shape our world without ever saying a word.

To view the video for this Ivan Christmas moment, please visit our Ivan the Gorilla® YouTube channel. If you would like to purchase a Christmas card that reflects this Ivan Christmas then please visit Ivan’s Shop for details.

Learn from his Legacy by knowing his story through his past with each new chapter of the Ivan Chronicles

For more content about this event, check out Ivan’s Bonus board!

Ivan built Interstate 5

By  November 2, 2019 Beloved Ivan Press

Ivan the Gorilla® at the controls

The year was 1964. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 29, 1956, gave birth to the construction of the new Interstate 5. The Superhighway would stretch 277 miles across the state of Washington closely following ancient trails once used by the indigenous Native Americans & later trappers from the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Northwest Construction Company

The State issued the contract to the Northwest Construction Company founded & operated at the time by Paul Fiorito. The company moved several million yards of earth & paved the new Interstate 5 from Olympia to Everett. A tribute to the ingenuity & innovation of America in the 20th century. During construction of the Interstate close to the present-day Tacoma Dome, Mr. Fiorito invited his Brother-in-law Earl Irwin to visit the site. Ever the promoter, Mr. Irwin made the most of any opportunity, he therefore extended the invitation to Larry Johnston & his new little brother Ivan. A recently discovered B&I document highlights securing permission from then-President Johnson for Ivan to operate the paving machine that built I-5.

Ivan & his crew

“Just another adventure with Ivan. This photo was taken in very close proximity to the current location of the Tacoma Dome. As always, Ivan was a bit standoffish at first but per the norm when something caught his interest he was off for another adventure”

Larry Johnston

Jerry Fiorito, the son of Paul Fiorito would often visit his father at one of his many construction sites. However, this particular day offered a far more unique experience, his first meeting with Ivan the Gorilla®!

“Wild experience for me! Ivan threw himself into my arms with no warning at what to expect! Amazing the strength of such a small being! The Paving crew loved this experience & it stirred many conversations for several days”

Jerry Fiorito

Marylou Borgert had also attended this event with her father Earl Irwin & fondly recollects the moment with Ivan the Gorilla building Interstate 5!

“At first Jerry looked a little scared & as usual Ivan wanted to get going. He squirmed & jumped from here to there, pausing a little at the machinry before finally falling in love with all the gadgets”

Marylou Borgert

Learn from his Legacy by knowing his story through his past with each new chapter of the Ivan Chronicles

For more content about this event, check out Ivan’s Bonus board!

The Bicycle

By  September 7, 2019 Beloved Ivan Press


Larry Johnston & Ivan the Gorilla® circa 1964 at the B&I Circus Store

“Ivan loved to ride on motorcycles with me, therefore it was natural for him to hop on my shoulders & take this opportunity to go for a spin on this new bicycle

Larry Johnston

The Solex Electric Bicycle company wanted to introduce their new motorized bicycle & feature a photo shoot with Ivan for commercial purposes. Ivan & I would take many adventures together, but he had especially loved to ride on motorcycles with me. Therefore, it was natural for him to hop on my shoulders & take this opportunity to go for a spin on this new bike. Typically, when we rode motorcycles together he would stand on the back of the seat, wrap his arms around my neck & enjoy the wind in his little fuzzy head.

Larry Johnston

Learn from his Legacy by knowing his story through his past with each new chapter of the Ivan Chronicles

For more content about this event, check out Ivan’s Bonus board!