Ivan the gorilla was such a beloved fixture he had his own Facebook page. How many other animals can say that? He died Monday at an Atlanta Zoo. He was 50. Mourners in the Puget Sound region, who fell in love with the silverback during his 27 years on display at the B & I...

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Ivan the gorilla was such a beloved fixture he had his own Facebook page. How many other animals can say that?
He died Monday at an Atlanta Zoo. He was 50. Mourners in the Puget Sound region, who fell in love with the silverback during his 27 years on display at the B & I Public Marketplace in Lakewood, are flocking to social media to pay their respects.

The best kind of respect the public paid Ivan was when their outcry spurred a national push to rescue him from his steel-and-concrete shopping center display cage to a real zoo. The Atlanta zoo took him in the mid-1990s.

The best zoos are humane sanctuaries for wildlife and up-close educational vehicles for humans who want to learn about them. They also are places where wild animals are held in captivity. Whether the two definitions can peacefully coexist is an age-old debate about the usefulness of zoos. Back to Ivan: the lowland gorilla with a regal gaze got to live his last years surrounded by grass rather than concrete. He earned it.

Photo: Bita Honarvar/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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