Disney’s Animal Kingdom Inspires ‘The One and Only Ivan’ Filmmakers

One and only Ivan

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home for many animal species. Seeing the animals on Kilimanjaro Safari is enough to inspire any guest to learn more about wildlife. But it turns out that Disney’s Animal Kingdom can inspire filmmakers, too!

Those who watch “The One and Only Ivan” may see some familiar sights from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The theme park served as a resourceful tool to the filmmakers. For instance, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, with its lush greenery, serves as a model for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Filmmakers also spent time studying the behaviors of our western lowland gorillas. They learned about their family dynamics by observing how they forage for food, play with one another, and sleep.

The One and Only Ivan

The film features the voices of: Sam Rockwell as the gorilla Ivan; Angelina Jolie as Stella the elephant; Danny DeVito as Bob the dog; Helen Mirren as Snickers the poodle; Chaka Khan as Henrietta the chicken; Mike White as Frankie the seal; Brooklynn Prince as Ruby the baby elephant; Ron Funches as Murphy the rabbit; Phillipa Soo as Thelma the parrot; and stars Ramon Rodriguez, Ariana Greenblatt and Bryan Cranston. “The One and Only Ivan” is directed by Thea Sharrock from a screenplay by Mike White based on Applegate’s novel and is produced by the late Allison Shearmur, p.g.a., Angelina Jolie and Brigham Taylor, p.g.a. Sue Baden-Powell and Thea Sharrock serve as executive producers.

Ivan is a 400-pound silverback gorilla who shares a communal habitat in a suburban shopping mall with Stella the elephant and Bob the dog. He has few memories of the jungle where he was captured, but when a baby elephant named Ruby arrives, it touches something deep within him. Ruby is recently separated from her family in the wild, which causes him to question his life, where he comes from and where he ultimately wants to be.


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Kevin Koszola