“The One and Only Ivan,” a new movie now streaming on Disney+, tells the true story of a gorilla who was captured in the wild in Africa and then put on display inside a shopping center in Tacoma, Washington, where “Ivan” spent 27 years living by himself in a barren cage. In 1994, following a campaign led by the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, Ivan was moved to Zoo Atlanta where he lived among other gorillas in a more natural environment. Ivan died in 2012 at the age of 50.
Inspired by the “Free Ivan” campaign, in 1997 the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) launched a similar effort on behalf of King, a gorilla who lives a cruel, solitary existence at the roadside zoo Monkey Jungle in Miami. (Monkey Jungle has been closed to visitors since March.)
ARFF urged Monkey Jungle to also send King to Zoo Atlanta, where he could live out the remainder of his life with companionship and dignity. But despite Zoo Atlanta’s invitation and pleas from primatologist Jane Goodall, TV personality Bob Barker, and thousands of Florida residents, Monkey Jungle refused. (photo: Bob Barker led a march to Monkey Jungle in 1998)
Of the approximately 350 gorillas in zoos in the United States, King is believed to be the only one who lives alone. King has lived without companions since 1989, when a female gorilla at Monkey Jungle died.
Gorillas are intelligent animals with complex social and emotional lives. King, now 50 years old, deserves to spend his final years with other gorillas.