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Zoo Atlanta Hopes Ivan Won’t Go Ape After 30 Years, He Has A Date With The Gorilla Of His Dreams

Ivan the Gorilla is ready for his first date after spending most of his 30 years alone in a cage at a Tacoma shopping mall.

Ivan, who was moved to Zoo Atlanta in October, has finished his three-month quarantine and will be introduced Friday to three females, said zoo spokeswoman Carol Flammer.

There won’t be any necking or nuzzling allowed, though. The females will be in another room, where Ivan can see but not touch them.

“He’s more than ready,” said Kyle Burks, the Georgia Tech graduate student who’s been guiding Ivan through the transition from isolation to socialization. “He knows something big is going to happen.”

The females are Molly, who is about 27; Katie, about 30; and Kuchi, 10.

“We’ll probably bring Molly in first, then the others one at a time,” Flammer said. “Eventually, we may even bring more than those three in.”

Ivan will be moved from his small quarantine cage to a large day room before the meeting. The females will be moved into a room across the hall, said Dietrich Schaaf, the zoo’s general curator.

Separated by an 8-foot aisle, the gorillas will size each other up.

Will there be any animal magnetism, or will Ivan run away?

“I can’t guess right now,” Burks said. “We’ll be watching for his first reaction, which is probably going to tell us a lot.”

Ivan hasn’t seen another gorilla since he was captured as an infant in Africa. After being raised by a Tacoma family for his first three years, he spent the next 27 years on display in a cage at the B&I; Shopping Mall.

He was moved to the Atlanta zoo after a three-year campaign by animal rights activists and gorilla experts, who argued that Ivan deserved the chance to live with his own kind.


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