- Ivan: an easygoing gorilla who has lived in the mall for 24 years and 3 years living with Mack; the main character. Ivan has spent most of his life in captivity, either living in a human home or at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. He remembers little about his life before captivity and has grown content with his life at the mall. As the story progresses, Ivan determines that his life is not satisfactory and he works to save Ruby by having her removed to a zoo.
- Stella: a senior elephant who used to live in circuses before coming to the mall. Stella has a long memory, and would much prefer to live in a zoo. She extracts a promise from Ivan to take care of Ruby if she cannot.
- Bob: a stray dog who lives with Ivan in his domain. Bob is satisfied to be a stray dog and has no desire to be adopted into a human home.
- Mack: the owner of the mall and part-time circus clown; purchased Ivan from poachers who captured him in his home in Africa. Mack is not seen often on screen. He appears to be a generally good man. However, his business is failing and he cannot afford to keep up the mall the way he used to. His actions regarding Stella and Ruby are what finally spur Ivan to try to have Ruby moved to a zoo.
- George: The mall custodian. George is a good man who cares for the animals and the mall. However, he is conflicted about helping them because he is afraid of losing his job.
- Julia: George's daughter; inspires Ivan to love drawing. Julia works to help Ivan in his quest to move Ruby and the other animals to a zoo.
- Ruby: a baby elephant who is new to the mall. Ruby has only recently lost her mother and has never previously been trained in circus tricks. Ruby's treatment at the hands of Mack is what ultimately drives Ivan to try to find a way to save her.
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