I used to see Ivan at the B&I when I lived in WA state. He looked lonely. I don't remember much about his space other than it was sort of gray (cement?) and barren. Somewhere I read it was "state of the art" in the 60s when it was built ... but then never upgraded. And they also had a machine where if you put in a quarter the floor would heat up and a poor chicken would be forced to "dance." Also sad.
I am glad to hear that Ivan's story had a happy ending in Atlanta.
Anyway. Back to the book 'cause that's what's important. LOVED IT. Can't wait to share it with the kids at school. I totally wish I could get someone else to take over running the school announcements. Then I'd do a read aloud of it in the mornings.
This would be a great example of voice in a writing class. Each of the animals and human characters have a distinct personality that comes through in everything they say (or do not say ... so there's some inference practice).
More important than any curriculum connections, however, are the emotions and principles behind the story. We could all use a little more empathy. We could all show a little more charity to those around us. And by charity I don't mean like giving money ... I mean like showing that we CARE. We're watching out for each other, human and animal alike!
(Unless you are a snake. Then I'm afraid I'm not much for watching out for you other than to stay away! ;])
Here is the Atlanta Zoo's page on gorillas. Did not know they have the most gorillas of any zoo in the nation. Our zoo has monkeys but no gorillas. I thought it was cool the webpage had a list of recommended books for kids (find it HERE) though they obviously need to update it to include this one!
(Totally for my own curiosity ... I did some Googling. The Tacoma Public Library had a few archived photos of Ivan's earliest days that were kind of interesting. I don't have any pics of my visits. I don't remember really even liking that mall ... the whole thing was kind of run down--not just Ivan's cage--in the late 80s/early 90s when I was there. That was before the days of camera phones that document every small moment of our lives!)