Power of Place Episode #44 | My Brother’s Keepers - Larry Johnston and Earl Borgert

Swing into the B & I Circus Store circa 1964 with guest Larry Johnston, who at age 13 became brother to a western lowland gorilla named Ivan—-the ape that became as emblematic of the Pacific Northwest as the legendary Sasquatch.

Larry narrates the tale of how his parents came to own the B & I pet store, thanks to Orca capturer Ted Griffin. He warmly remembers the store’s ever-changing menagerie, which included gibbons, jaguars, lions, seals, an elephant, exotic fish and even Amazonian parrots. Most poignantly, he shares stories of growing up with the young Ivan.

Join Larry on a journey that takes you from Hollywood movie sets to an unexpected encounter involving one of America’s most esteemed civil rights figures. Fast forward to today, where students from the Seattle Jewish Community School share questions from their reading of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

Adding to our list of notable voices, Jodi Carrigan, the Curator of Primates at Zoo Atlanta, reflects on her relationship with Ivan in his later years. Rounding off our tale, Earl Borgert, grandson of B & I's founder Earl Irwin, presents the I.V.A.N. Foundation, dedicated to preserving wildlife habitats.

(To hear additional stories of the B & I Circus Store, tune in to Episode #40, “The Wizard of Earl," for a conversation with Ron Irwin, who ran the store for decades following the passing of his father, store founder Earl Irwin).

"He was…unique in so many ways. He loved to engage people. Ivan just relished making connection.” - Larry Johnston