The One and Only Ivan

Badr Alshaer, Obaida Kiswani and Yazan Aqrabawi

Ivan is a silver back gorilla who lives in a cage in the Big Top Mall at exit Eight. He does not know how he got there. He is now trying to get back his old life, but his situation does not help him. There are some friends of his whom help him try to find the life he wants and at the same time make others happy.
Humans just come and look at Ivan in the cage, but nobody tries to know how he got to the Big Top Mall. George is the janitor, and his daughter, Julia, loves and cares about the animals; Ivan, Bob, the stray dog and Stella, the elephant.  Everyday, after Julia finishes her homework, she draws pictures with crayons and shows them to Ivan. One day Ivan was watching a TV show that talks about nature and he sees a gorilla and blue sky with clouds, that is the type of environment that Ivan has always dreamt of living in. For some strange reason the show reminded Ivan about his parents and how he used to climb his father’s back and his father would get angry afterwards. Ivan’s mother always took care of him and made him feel secure between her soft hands.
One day, the animals noticed that there will be a new animal to join them in the Big Top Mall. Sometimes, Stella’s foot becomes swollen and begins to hurt her. Mack, the person responsible for the animals, doesn’t provide Stella with medical help because money is tight. While they were waiting for the new visitor, Stella's foot begins to hurt her again. This time it is an ugly, deep shade of red. Finally, the new visitor arrives in a big white truck. Ivan notices it is a baby elephant because her trunk was poking out. Ruby, the baby elephant, was shipped from Africa to a zoo, which was closed after a month. So Mack went to buy her because she was cheap. Stella is not too happy about the new visitor because she knows that Ruby will suffer in the Big Top Mall. Ruby is in the same cage as Stella. Stella does her best to keep Ruby comfortable and protected. Stella was treating Ruby as if Ruby were her own child because Stella never had any children.
Stella’s foot starts to hurt her a lot more. She is having difficulty breathing. Julia passes by to see how the animals are doing. She notices Stella is having trouble breathing so she calls her father to Stella’s cage and asks him if Stella is okay. George, Julia’s father, calls Mack. Mack tells him if she is still not feeling better the following morning, he will call the vet. That night, while Ivan was sleeping, he awakes to the sound of Stella’s whispering. Stella wants Ivan to promise her something. Ivan promises her to take care of Ruby because she could have a better life that is different from Stella’s and she needs a safe place and a better environment to live in…like a zoo, unlike the Big Top Mall. The next day, Stella passes away. Bob saw Stella’s body being tossed into a garbage truck, and it took five men and a forklift to get her in the truck.
The following morning, the news is spread and everybody knows about Stella. Julia cries all morning, while her father sweeps the dust off the floor with his mop. When George sees Mack, he runs to him and says some stuff to him. The only words Ivan can hear are “Vet. Should have. Wrong.”  The next couple of days were full of crying and sadness. Ruby didn’t stop crying. After a few days she calms down. She starts to tell Ivan that she misses Stella and that she wants her back.
Ivan decides that he wants to keep his promise to Stella, which is to let Ruby live a better life. He plans for weeks. Bob, the stray dog, tells him that the garbage truck that comes each night to pick up the garbage of the mall passes by the zoo on its way to the landfill. The following night, he executes his plan. He sneaks Ruby out of the small opening of her cage, where she barely fits. Then while the garbage men get the garbage from the mall, Ruby and Ivan get into the garbage truck and hide under the filthy garbage. When they get near the zoo they jump off. Taking into consideration that they are large tough animals, they didn’t even get a scratch on their rugged skin. They continued to the zoo, stopping to hide here and there when they hear people coming by. By the time they got to the zoo, it was dawn. So they hid behind the bushes that are on the outskirts of the entrance and wait for the zoo to open. When the zoo finally opened, Ivan and Ruby went inside. The zoo’s staff immediately takes both of the animals in and cleans them. When Ivan enters his new home, he recognizes one of the gorillas. He goes up to him and starts to talk to him. He finds out that gorilla turns out to be his own father.
But the sad news is his mother died trying to protect her son when the hunters took Ivan from Africa and tried to sell him in America. She attacked the hunters, and as a result, one of the hunters shot her in the head. Nonetheless, Ivan is ecstatic to be reunited with his father and to have family once again. Bob lives on the margins of the walkways of the zoo. As for Ruby, she is living among other elephants that treat her like family. All of the animals are living a very happy life.