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Ivan the gorilla

The Zoo Atlanta family is saddened by the passing of Ivan the western lowland gorilla, 50 years old and a cherished member of our collection since 1994.

Every life at the Zoo is a story worth sharing, but his story was once told so widely and passionately that it ignited a national movement that touched two coasts. From the jungles of Africa to the shores of the Pacific Northwest to The Ford African Rain Forest at Zoo Atlanta, his life has been a symbol of the way animals shape our lives -- and the power we have to shape theirs.

Ivan's story is one of Zoo Atlanta's most memorable happy endings. Born in Africa in 1962, he was captured as an infant and sold to the owners of a department store in Tacoma, Wash., where he lived for nearly three decades in a solitary indoor enclosure. By the mid 1990s, the silverback's living conditions had inspired a highly-publicized movement for his relocation, prompting Ivan's owners to donate their celebrity tenant to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. Leadership in the care and study of western lowland gorillas were already trademarks for Zoo Atlanta, with the world-class Ford African Rain Forest having opened to national acclaim just six years earlier. Recognizing the importance of giving Ivan the opportunity to become a social gorilla and with the recommendation of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), Woodland Park Zoo placed Ivan on permanent loan to Zoo Atlanta in October 1994.

Despite numerous opportunities to share his habitat with female companions, Ivan has never followed in the footsteps of his prolific fellow founders, having sired no offspring to date. Although he has now been part of the Zoo Atlanta family for more than 15 years, his friends and fans in the Pacific Northwest have never forgotten; of our more than 1,500 residents, Ivan is the most asked-about animal on the Zoo's Facebook profile.

Find out more about Ivan at
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