Don't Ignore the Big Top Monster
A little explanation about the monster in our story since it isn't a person or creature or some such. Instead the beast is an outdated way of thinking about animals, a human versus other living creatures mentality that devalues living beings that aren't, well, human. This way of thinking brings with it the belief that animals exist mostly for human use, scientific experimentation, and entertainment.
Anticipation Stage and Call
Ivan is smart, but after a traumatic early life, he keeps himself focused on the day to day instead of the big picture. The day to day isn't great, either—he and animal buddies are kept caged and forced to perform, left to lead lives devoid of nature or the company of other animals from their species. Ivan tries to focus on the good, though, so he spends his time painting instead of lecturing the world about the harmful effects of animal poaching.
His call to action arrives via Stella, who asks Ivan—on her deathbed— to help create a better life for Ruby. A friend to the end, Ivan agrees, and since he's a gorilla of his word, well, it looks like he's about to get busy.
Ivan dives headfirst into his plan to save Ruby, which is a major art project. Ivan paints day and night, stowing away signage he's carefully crafting to hopefully get the message our that Ruby needs to be saved from this terrible cooped up life. He even learns how to spell home, spreading the letters across multiple pieces of paper.
With the sign finished, all Ivan needs is to make sure it gets into the right hands. No problem, right? Wrong. Remember: He's a gorilla, so he can't exactly just ask someone to hang his masterpiece up for him for all the world to see. He's worked so hard, but unless he can get a little human help, it looks like his hours of work just might be for nothing.
When Ivan's hard work goes unnoticed, it looks like his dream for better days just might fizzle out. George can only see the work Ivan has done through human eyes, and when he tells Julia that it looks like Ivan's drawn "a bunch of blobs" (more paintings.1041), Ivan's anger spills forth.
Frustration transforms into bellowing and chest beating, and since being so angry is out of character for Ivan, Julia and George recognize that something is definitely not okay with Ivan. And when they do, they decide to take a closer look at his pile of artwork.
The Thrilling Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster
Julia and George alert the community and the media to Ivan's Save Ruby project, and the mall parking lot fills with protestors holding signs demanding the animals' release. Ivan's wish is finally answered, and Ruby is now a great safe distance away from the monster's clutches. Mack's operation is shut down and the animals move to a zoo. Ivan liberates his community, and in doing so, frees himself as well, ultimately retiring in peace at the zoo, surrounded by other gorillas. Yay.