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The Bicycle

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

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…

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My Perspective: Disney’s The One and Only Ivan

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

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…

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

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…

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What a Remarkable Beautiful Creature He Was.

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…

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For A Friend

The One and Only Ivan - Applegate autograph

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…

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A Christmas Tree for Ivan

Ivan and his Christmas tree

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…

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How Ivan Helped Build Interstate 5

Ivan working the heavy equipment on Interstate 5 in Tacoma

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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