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 an infant, nor should he have been for sale.

This practice of wildlife trading was all too common in our culture in the early to mid-1900s. Unfortunately, it is still an issue, even in 2020.  There are times I reflect upon what my life would be like had Ivan never been a part of it. In all honesty, it is a question that can never be answered. As a child, my wonder never ceased whenever I had visited him and as a teenager, saying goodbye to him as he left for his new life at Zoo Atlanta was beyond difficult.

In retrospect, I can either choose to spend my years questioning my relationship with Ivan or I could honor him in any way possible for a friend that had shaped my life.


Upon his passing

I collected his ashes and returned Ivan to Tacoma. Four years were spent raising enough funds to dedicate a Bronze Monument to him. With every pour of bronze, a small portion of Ivan’s ashes were added so that he may always live on. It is my dream to someday return the rest of his remains to his native Congo.

We created The I.V.A.N. Foundation, not only for this mission, but to provide scholarships and support younger generations who have been inspired by Ivan & wish to carry on his legacy, dedicating their lives to the conservation of his native homeland.


Our Family is not Affiliated with the Movie

We do not know how we will be portrayed, but it matters not. People will always tell their stories of Ivan whether they are fact or fiction & it is these stories that have made him legend.

There are many lessons I learned from Ivan, the most important being that we should aspire to be more like his kind rather than try to shape them to be more like us.

So, my friend, as you had done so long ago & through an age, tomorrow, you will once again & forevermore change our world yet again to be as you make it, all without ever saying a word.Click To Tweet


Enjoy the show.



  1. Brun Jenkins on August 22, 2020 at 2:47 am

    Wow! That brought many tears to my eyes. I sure remember seeing Ivan many times as a kid growing up. Very touching.

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