Ivan Piece by Piece courtesy of the Seattle Times photograph by Alan Berner

The Monument

The Monument to honor the life of Ivan stands outside the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Tacoma, WA

Inspired by the affection the Tacoma community had felt for Ivan the Gorilla® whom had once resided at the B&I Circus Store in Tacoma Washington the Friends of Ivan sought to honor his life and legacy.  The “Beloved Ivan” project was successful in funding, creating and installing a life-size bronze monument of Ivan at the entrance to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.

The sculpture, proudly standing at over 6 feet tall, welcomes over 600,000 people that annually visit the zoo.  Display materials tell Ivan’s story and provide information about Western lowland gorillas, such as their habitat and threatened existence.  Fund-raising included foundation and corporate grants, gifts from individuals, and crowdfunding online.

Ivan with Magnolia Blossom

Ivan’s first day at Zoo Atlanta. Courtesy of the Tacoma News Tribune. Photograph by Dean Koephler

Arguably, Ivan could have been one of the most photographed gorillas known in our society and his pose for the statue was derived from a photograph by Dean Koepfler as part of a featured article in The Tacoma News Tribune that had celebrated the new chapter in Ivan’s life.  The photo, taken at the moment when Ivan had first touched a Magnolia blossom on the first day in his new outdoor enclosure at Zoo Atlanta.

Pieces of Ivan


Using innovative 3D Computer-Aided Design & Manufacturing technology from Form 3D in Portland, OR, the artist Douglas Granum was able to accurately portray the complex details of Ivan’s face, his size, and his body.  The CAD modeled Ivan was then broken into multiple pieces and printed separately by a large 3D printer that is more commonly used to produce automobiles or planes.

Each piece of the model was then soaked in a Paraffin wax bath to preserve the intricate details that could be lost in the casting process and transported to the local foundry Two Ravens Studio in Tacoma, Washington to be forever cast in bronze. In the end, Ivan’s sculpture weighed approximately 600 lbs & is approximately six feet tall. The project took 2 yrs from the first concept in 2014 to final creation in 2016 while the assembly from 3D resin printed parts took 4 months from April 2016 to July 2016.

Unveiling Ivan

Unveiling Ivan: Douglas Granum, Dean Koephler (Tacoma News Tribune), Earl Borgert & Alan Berner (Seattle Times)

A golden Ivan

Ivan’s monument in Bronze before the patina application

The Ivan monument, a first of its kind cast exclusively using 3D printed resin parts.

Ivan’s legacy teaches us about the personal connection which can occur between humans and gorillas. The hope is to continue to increase awareness and inspire action to preserve the habitat for Western lowland gorillas in the Congo, Africa.

If you have a story you’d like to share about your experience with Ivan, we encourage you to share your “Ivan story” at BelovedIvan.org.

Ivan Piece by Piece courtesy of the Seattle Times photograph by Alan Berner