Former Puget Sound area youngsters of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, already reeling from the death of J.P. Patches (Chris Wedes) last month, were dealt another blow when Ivan the Gorilla passed yesterday (Monday 8/21) at Zoo Atlanta. The 50 year old Ivan had recently been suffering a respiratory illness, and had lost weight and appetite. He was put under a general anesthesia for diagnostic assessment and never regained consciousness. The normal lifespan for a lowland gorilla in the wild is 35-40 years, but they can live into their 50’s in captivity. Ivan delighted kids of all ages (and occasionally frightening them with poop-flinging and masturbatory antics) from his home at the back of the B&I Circus Store on South Tacoma Way in Lakewood for 27 years. Born in Africa in 1962, Ivan came to the store in 1964 with his sister Burma who died of pneumonia six months later. Ivan gained national attention in the early 90’s when Michael Jackson tried to purchase him for his Neverland Ranch menagerie after public outcry by animal rights activists over his solitary confinement and spartan concrete, steel, and plexiglass accommodations (it did have a heated floor and back area with a small pool and waterfall where he could get away from kids banging on the glass). He was donated to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo in 1994, who in turn sent him to Zoo Atlanta on “permanent loan” as they already had several lowland gorillas in residence. It was there that Ivan had contact with other gorillas for the first time in 30 years in 1995, and first got lucky with a female in 1998, but did not father any little gorillas. He was a great ape, and we’ll miss him.
More from the Tacoma News Tribune.
In unrelated news of interest to Puget Sound area adult-children, a memorial for J.P Patches is scheduled for 11 AM Saturday, September 8th at Seattle Center.