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To Inspire, Provide Vision,
Awareness, and Nurture Younger Generations in the


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An idea can start a movement, but its virtue will


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“The population of mountain gorillas has continued to increase in recent years, leading to its downlisting from Critically Endangered to Endangered in November 2018.” ― WWF

More is required to increase the population size. It starts with learning their plight and connecting on a more personal level. The deeper our bond with these amazing beings, the more empathetic we are, the more we are drawn to help.

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Ivan and a magnolia blossom
Magnolia blossom

Through Ivan's Story,

grants, scholarships, and a variety of programs, we are dedicated to the conservation of endangered species in their natural habitat.

A lesson learned from Ivan’s Legacy is that we should aspire to be more like his kin rather than trying to shape them to be more like us.

Ivan the Gorilla Loving memory

Ivan touched the lives of many in the Tacoma, WA area. We continue to learn how and in what ways years after his passing.

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Part of Ivan’s legacy is:

The Ivan statue at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was only the beginning.
The I.V.A.N. Foundation is the next step.

It is our mission to use his story to

Inspire, provide Vision, Awareness, and Nurture younger generations to bring about conservation of endangered species in their natural habitats.

Ivan statue at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma

Statue of Ivan at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

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What makes these creatures who they are is their behaviors and personalities. Environmental changes lead to an altering of who we are at our core and how we act. We adapt and evolve into our new surroundings.

We need to do more than preserve the Western Lowland Gorilla and other endangered species.



Our story: Ivan the Gorilla and family

Heirs To A Story Like No Other

September 30, 2020

My Grandparents, Earl & Constance Irwin, started the B&I Circus store back in the early 40’s and from my earliest memories, Ivan was always a part of my life and family. My sisters and I often state how incredible our childhood was, largely due to the influence of our close family state. As a child,…

Ivan the Gorilla on the shoulders of Larry Johnston riding a Solex Bicycle

The Bicycle

September 10, 2020

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

Sammy the elephant on the merry go round as featured in Disney's The One and Only Ivan

My Perspective: Disney’s The One and Only Ivan

August 26, 2020

I watched the newly released Disney movie, The One and Only Ivan, over the weekend. For many, this may be a fascinating movie, but for me, it was epic.     The film had captivated me from the beginning. It opened with the introduction of Henrietta, a chicken that played baseball. We actually did have…

I was hired as a manager at B & I Circus Store in 1964

August 24, 2020

I was there to welcome Ivan and Burma when they arrived. They lived with the Johnson family who brought them to the store daily. They were amazing little guys. Burma got ill and didn’t survive after several months of degrading illness. The Johnson’s and I took the little guys on promotional trips to Seattle. One…

What a Remarkable Beautiful Creature He Was.

August 23, 2020

I’m 41 years old today, but when I was a little girl (age 8), I grew up in Tacoma and my mom worked at the B&I and sometimes she would bring me to work and I would see Ivan daily. He was so beautiful and so human-like. I had a really horrible childhood and I…

The One and Only Ivan - Applegate autograph

For A Friend

August 20, 2020

August 20, 2020 Today, August 20, 2020, is the eighth anniversary of the passing of our friend Ivan the Gorilla®. Tomorrow Disney will release their motion picture adaptation of the novel “The One and Only Ivan”. Through the years much has been said about my family & our connection to Ivan, my grandfather should not have bought Ivan as…

Ivan and his Christmas tree

A Christmas Tree for Ivan

December 2, 2019

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…

Ivan working the heavy equipment on Interstate 5 in Tacoma

How Ivan Helped Build Interstate 5

November 2, 2019

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 &…

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