PAWS recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the release of Ivan, an endangered Western Lowland gorilla, from 27 years of solitary confinement in a Tacoma shopping mall. It was on March 16, 1995, that Ivan first set foot outside in almost 30 years. Thanks to a seven-year campaign led by PAWS, he started his new life at Zoo Atlanta. Read his amazing story in the outreach section on the PAWS Web site, www.paws.org.
PAWS’ celebration for Ivan included a gathering of representatives from PAWS and Woodland Park Zoo, partners in freeing Ivan a decade ago. The shelter lobby and hallways were decorated with colorful pictures and notes to Ivan created by local third-graders participating in the PAWS’ Kids Who Care Humane Education Program. In the classroom, the kids study Ivan’s story and through it, learn they can truly make a difference in the lives of animals.
Ivan is an intelligent, gentle giant. He has become one of the zoo’s star attractions after successfully overcoming the emotional and physical damage caused by his years of confinement. Ivan delights guests of Zoo Atlanta with his paternal antics and tendencies to cover his head with a burlap sack to express his disapproval of rain.
Ivan’s case is a shining example of the amazing change a caring community can accomplish. Ten years later, the story of this great ape continues to touch and inspire us all.