Those of us who have had the pleasure of reading the verse novel THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate are saddened to learn today of the passing of Ivan the Gorilla, who inspired the book. Ivan, a lowland gorilla, was captured as a juvenile in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was eventually placed in a small cage by himself in a shopping mall in Washington State where he languished for twenty-seven years. After a public outcry about his lonely existence, Ivan was transferred to a zoo in Atlanta where he lived with and befriended other lowland gorillas. He was even noted to be quite a hit with the ladies, though he never fathered any offspring.
Ivan was 50 years old. He died during exploratory surgery after an extended illness. Goodbye, Ivan. You really were a one and only.