I'd like to start a list of all of the characteristics of a gorilla, according to Ivan. Will you help me make a list? I know I have missed some already. If you think of one add it in the comments section.
p.162 "Gorillas are terrible liars."
p. 126 "He was everything a silverback is meant to be: a guide, a teacher, a protector."
p. 3 "Gorillas are patient."
p. 51 "Gorillas are not complainers."
From The One and Only Ivan, p.142-145
"Mack grew sullen, and I grew bigger. I became what I was meant to be, too large for chairs, too strong for hugs, too big for human life.
I tried to stay calm, to move with dignity. I did my best to eat daintily. But human ways are hard to learn, especially when you're not human.
When I saw my domain, I was thrilled, and who wouldn't have been? It had no furniture to break. No glasses to smash. No toilets to drop Mack's keys in.
It even had a tire swing.
I was relieved to have my own place.
Somehow, I didn't realize I'd be here quite so long.
Now I drink Pepsi, eat old apples, watch reruns on TV.
But many days I forget what I am supposed to be. Am I a human? Am I a gorilla?
Humans have so many words, more than they truly need.
Still, they have no name for what I am."
Ivan seems to be having an identity crisis, or a feeling of unhappiness and confusion caused by not being sure about what type of person you really are or what the true purpose of your life is. How might Ivan's unnatural living arrangements have created this confusion?
The Real Ivan
A class set up a google hangout with the people at zoo Atlanta, who were Ivan's caretakers for the later part of his life. Watch this interview to get to know the real gorilla from The One and Only Ivan.
I am also sharing with you my notes that I took during the "hangout". Please feel free to add to my notes in the comment section after you watch the video and notice information that I have missed.
Read more about the real Ivan: Meet 'Ivan': The Gorilla Who Lived In A Shopping Mall
from The One and Only Ivan p. 202-203
"It’s time to show my work.
The mall is silent, except for Thelma the macaw, who is practicing her new phrase: 'Uh-Oh!'
Julia is finishing her homework. George is sweeping outside. Mack has gone home for the night.
I grab Not-Tag and carefully pull out the folded papers. So many paintings! Page after page. Piece after piece of my giant puzzle.
I pound on my glass and Julia glances over.
Fingers trembling. I hold up one of my paintings. It’s brown and green, a corner piece.
I display another picture, and then another and another and another, each one a tiny part of the whole.
Julia looks confused. 'But...what is it?' she asks. She shrugs. 'It doesn’t matter. It’s pretty just as it is.'
'Uh-oh,' says Thelma.
No, I think. No.
It does matter."
I want you to do an activity so that you can understand just how difficult it would be for Julia to understand Ivan’s message.
First you will paint a picture. Don’t get too attached to your painting, because I am going to cut it up into a bunch of pieces.
After your picture has dried, I am going to cut it up and put it in a bag. You will each take a bag containing “puzzle” pieces that are not yours, then you will try to put the pieces together and figure out what someone else was trying to show you. As difficult as this is, imagine how much harder this would have been for Julia to figure out-not knowing that she was being given pictures that were part of a whole that needed to be put together.
After completing the activity write about what it was like trying to put the pieces together. Include any thoughts that you might have on how Ivan’s plan could have been different to make it easier for Julia to figure out what he was trying to tell her. Do you think she will be able to figure it out?
Do you think zoos are good or bad? Read the following articles from Newsela on the topic of zoos:
Now read some responses, both for and against zoos, to the question "Are Zoos Good or Bad on Debate.org:
With wild habitats disappearing worldwide, what role (if any) should zoos have in the conservation of endangered species, research, and education?
Weigh in on the topic, either for or against zoos, citing evidence from one or more of these sources to support your opinion.
I have posted a stop motion animation video made by the creators of "Wallace and Grommit" and it is called "Creature Comforts". Please click on the ED TED button to watch this video and join the discussion. I think the creators of this video may have been influenced by the story of the real Ivan because this character has a lot of similarities to Ivan, even down to the tally marks on the wall.
Read: Stanford students ease life in the zoo
Through a unique experience at San Francisco Zoo, Stanford students learn how to apply principles of animal behavior to design environmental enrichments that benefit both the animals and the complex mission of a zoo.
Discussion: Is mental stimulation through environmental enrichment equally important as nutrition and veterinary care? Why or why not?
Today I read a book called "Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship". It is the story of a baby hippo, Owen, that is caught in a tsunami and becomes stranded at sea. He loses his mother and the rest of his pod in the tsunami. He is rescued by humans and relocated to a shared domain with a giant tortoise, Mzee, who becomes his best friend. It is a true story of the most unlikely friendship.
Watch the documentary version of the Owen and Mzee story here.
There are so many similarities between Owen and Mzee & Ivan and Ruby that go beyond the obvious (their remarkable friendship). For example, Owen was saved by humans when he became stranded and Ruby was saved by humans when she fell in the village well. According to the documentary, Owen never really trusts the humans, while Ruby seems to be very comfortable with them, even after her bad experiences in the circus. What comparisons can you make between the two stories?
From The One and Only Ivan, p. 161
"Every so often, I glance over at the empty ring. The claw stick glints in the moonlight.
'Stop! No!' Ruby's frantic cries startle me.
'Ruby,' I call, 'you're having a bad dream. You're okay. You're safe.'
'Where's Stella?' she asks, gulping at air. Before I can answer, she says, 'Never mind, I remember now.'
'Go back to sleep, Ruby,' I say. 'You've had a hard day.'
'I can't go back to sleep,' she says. 'I'm afraid I'll have the same dream. There was a sharp stick and it hurt...'"
This made me think about whether or not animals have dreams. Do you think animals dream? If so, what have you observed before that makes you think that they do dream. I also wonder what animals dream about. Do frogs dream about falling off of their lily pads and catching flies? Do they have realistic dreams, or fantastical dreams, or both? Do they day dream?
"What Do Animals Dream About?" This article may be a difficult read because there's a lot of technical language, but if you skim through it you might be able to get a piece or two of information from it.
I am a big, BIG fan of cute animal videos. Of course I'm going to use this opportunity to include a video compilation of doggies and their dreams.
"Stella once teased me that elephants are more superior because they feel more joy and more grief than apes."
"Right now I would give all of the yogurt raisins in all of the world for a heart made of ice."
Can animals be sad, depressed, lonely, bored, or jealous? Are these human emotions that we project on them? Is it convenient for us to believe that animals don't feel the same way that we experience pain, sadness, grief, or joy? Why?
If you do feel that animals feel genuine emotions what implications might that have? Do all animals feel these emotions or is this ability connected to intelligence? What evidence has led you to this conclusion? Read this article about the brain of a killer whale to give you some insight.
I have included a link to koko.org. It is an article and video about a San Francisco gorilla, Koko, that can communicate through sign language and it shows her reaction to the news that her good friend Robin Williams had died. Have your views on animals feeling emotions changed?
Stella to Ivan: p.111:
"I've never asked for a promise before, because promises are forever, and forever is an unusually long time when you're in a cage."
"Domain," I correct.
Ruby and Ivan: p. 165
"Ruby taps her trunk against the rusty iron bars of her door. 'Do you think,' she asks, 'that I'll die in this domain someday, like Aunt Stella?'
Once again I consider lying, but when I look at Ruby, the half-formed words die in my throat. 'Not if I can help it,' I say instead.
I felt something tighten in my chest, something dark and hot. 'And it's not a domain,' I add.
I pause and then I say it. 'It's a cage.'"
At the beginning of the story the author defines a domain as a territory. A cage is defined as a structure of bars or wires in which birds or other animals are confined.
There are connotative and denotative meanings to these words, similar to the way that the words "house" and "home" have different meanings. The connotative meaning of “home” is a place of security, comfort, and family. When Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz says, “There’s no place like home,” she’s not referring to its denotation, but the emotions “home” evokes for her and most people. A denotative meaning is the literal meaning of a word, the dictionary version. Remember this because Denotative/Dictionary are both "D" words. Connotative meanings involve shared feelings and emotions that the words carries with it.
Although "cage" may be a synonym for "domain", it has a different connotative meaning. In the examples from The One and Only Ivan, does the word "cage" have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation? What is the connotative meaning of cage? Earlier in the story Ivan corrected Bob when he called their "domain" a "cage". Now Ivan has changed his thinking, and he is correcting Ruby. What do you think has caused him to change the way he feels about his "home"?
Watch this video about connotative and denotative word meanings. Can you make a better video explaining connotative and denotative word meanings using "cage" and "domain" as examples?
Ms. Marshall's blog for The One and Only Ivan. This will be our first novel unit this year, as well as an introduction to blogging as a form of written response to reading.