Beloved 'Ivan the Gorilla' immortalized with giant statue

Once completed, the statue of Ivan will be larger-than-life sized. On Tuesday, artists mixed Ivan's ashes into the metal, and poured his head into a mold. (KOMO Photos. Tacoma, Wash. May 3, 2016)

TACOMA, Wash. -- A beloved gorilla who once occupied a Lakewood storefront is being immortalized with a statue at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Ivan, a western lowland gorilla, spent decades displayed as an attraction at the B&I store before being moved to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, then an Atlanta zoo in 1994.

On Tuesday, metal artisans at Two Ravens Studio Foundry worked on the bronze statue that's set to be installed at the Tacoma zoo this summer.

Local artists mixed in some of Ivan's ashes into the metal, and say his ashes will be placed inside the sculpture before it's installed.

The community is using the statue show their love for the gorilla, and to honor Ivan's legacy - lowland gorilla conservation.

The 50-year-old gorilla never regained consciousness after he was put under general anesthesia, in August of 2012, for a diagnostic assessment.

Ivan was born in the wild around 1962 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Wildlife traders sold him to the owners of the department store in Lakewood, in 1964. Three years later, he was moved to an indoor cage at the store, and became known as the "Shopping Mall Gorilla."

Ivan had thousands of fans and visitors.

By the mid-1990s, a national movement had begun to have the solitary ape relocated. Facing pressure from zoological and animal rights communities, the store in 1994 donated Ivan to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. He was moved to Zoo Atlanta on permanent loan in October 1994.

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