The movie and book are based on the life of an actual Western Lowland Gorilla named Ivan. The real Ivan did live alone in a mall for 27 years after being a pet for six years. When protests shut the mall down. Ivan went to live at Zoo Atlanta where he had a much happier life.
Ariana Greenblatt and Philippa Soo have both in different Lin-Manuel Miranda projects. Soo originated the role of Elizabeth Schuyler in his musical Hamilton, as well as in the video recording on Disney+. Greenblatt starred as young Nina in the movie adaptation of In the Heights (2021)