Iron Curtain is the ninth episode of The Wild Thornberrys from season one.

Iron Curtain
Episode 9 (Season 1, Episode 9)
Airdate October 6, 1998
Directed by Mark Palmer
Written by Cathy Malkasian
The Wild Thornberrys
"Only Child"
"Valley Girls"

Characters PresentEdit


Eliza attempts to help a young elephant escape a nature reserve and reunite with her mother.


This episode takes place in Tanzania at the Ngorongoro Game Preserve. Eliza, Darwin, and Debbie are sitting down at the table doing various things. Donnie picks up an apple and starts jumping up and down on the table wanting Debbie to teach him how to speak and read. Debbie tells him that she's busy listening to music and can't teach him now. Debbie tells him to be quiet. Donnie starts running around the campsite screaming "oh be quiet" over and over again. Eliza looks over and sees that Nigel and Marianne are busy filming a segment for their show. Eliza tells Darwin they should go over and see what they're doing. Darwin thought that Eliza was supposed to be doing her homework. Eliza says that she's finished. She starts walking towards her parents when she notices an elephant near some trees. She walks over to see it.

Meanwhile, Nigel and Marianne are actually busy filming a segment on elephants. The one that is by the trees that Eliza is going to see is the one that they are trying to film. Nigel tells the camera that the elephant has eluded the camera all day, but that they are going to try and approach her now. Eliza tries to say hello to the elephant, but she gets startled. The elephant starts to run and Eliza gets caught in the path of it. She starts running away. Marianne notices Eliza running from the elephant and dives to get Eliza out of the way. She is able to get Eliza out of the way to safety. Marianne asks if Eliza is alright, and she replies that she's fine. Nigel and Marianne are frustrated that they missed their shot and they decide to head back to camp.

Back at camp, Donnie decides to play a joke on Debbie. He is able to sneak her music box away from her and turn the volume up very loud. Debbie takes her earphones off and screams. Donnie tells her to be quiet and it frustrates Debbie even more. Eliza, Nigel, and Marianne arrive home from camp. Nigel tells Marianne that the elephants around the preserve are more skittish than usual and tells her not to be so hard on Eliza for ruining her shot. Eliza is still upset that she did ruin their shot. Marianne says that they have to figure something out because they promised the Foundation that they would provide close-up footage of elephants. Nigel tells her that she just has to go out there and get the footage. Marianne retorts that was the plan the whole time. Nigel tells her that if she wants elephants then that's what she'll get.

The family loads up the convoy and arrives at the Ngorongoro Game Preserve. Marianne is excited to be at the preserve. There are a lot of elephants inside the preserve. But when Eliza sees the electric fences and guard towers, she begins to think that it is more like a prison. Nigel goes to park the vehicle and sees an old friend named Jomo. He slams on the breaks and Darwin ends up flying into the windshield. Nigel and Jomo greet each other and Jomo meets the rest of the family. He tells Marianne that he is a big fan of her camera work. Nigel introduces Jomo to the rest of the family. Jomo is impressed to see Darwin and says that the tourists love chimpanzees. He asks if they're going to drop him off here. Eliza says that's not going to happen. She tells Jomo that she thinks that this place is a prison and that the animals should be able to roam free. Jomo replies that he does feel that way at times, but warns Eliza that there are poachers that would do terrible things to the animals if they let them go. He tells them that they have to keep them behind an electric fence. Eliza is aghast after hearing that. Jomo assures her that the shock is not that hard. Donnie, who had been chasing a bug around, touches the fence and gets shocked. It stuns him a little, but he actually thinks that the fence is fun to play with. He shocks himself a few more times, and is about ready to try his tongue on the fence when Eliza grabs him. Jomo is also impressed by Donnie and says that he read the letters that Nigel sent to him about Donnie. Debbie tells Donnie that it's nice that somebody actually thinks he's interesting.

Everyone walks away to do different things. Eliza says that she wishes that there was something she could do and says that the animals must hate it here. Darwin tells her not to do anything because of the poachers that are around the savannah. Eliza tells him that they've been camping on the savannah for three days and asks if he's seen a poacher. She answers for him and says no. Darwin says that he's behind the fence and starts jumping around with joy because he's happy being behind it. Eliza has nothing to say, but notes that the baby elephant near them doesn't look happy at all.

Later that day, Eliza and Darwin start walking around. Eliza says she's going to try and poke around to see how the animals feel about the preserve and try to find the baby elephant. Darwin thought she was supposed to be watching Donnie. Eliza says Debbie is doing that, and she's going to teach him English. Debbie's magazine cover falls off and it makes her frustrated. She then sees somebody on one of the jeeps that has a newer edition of the magazine she has. Debbie tries to stop the jeep, but it speeds away. Debbie stops another jeep and informs the driver that she is Nigel Thornberry's daughter. The driver is honored to meet her. She tells him that she needs the jeep to help out her family with some of their nature adventures. The driver doesn't think that's a good idea, but Debbie screams at him to get out. The driver complies and Debbie takes off after the jeep. Eliza screams at Debbie that she can't leave Donnie and she has to teach him English. Debbie drives up to Donnie and puts him in the jeep with her. Eliza tells Darwin to come with her. Darwin complies, but still isn't happy about the whole situation.

Marianne continues to try to get close-up footage of the elephants. Eliza and Darwin sneak behind Marianne so they don't disturb her. As Nigel gives his introduction, they start to approach the elephants. But before they can get to them, they are interrupted by a fan and his wife. They run up to them and get pictures with them. The elephants are startled and they scatter. Marianne is very frustrated.

Meanwhile, Debbie and Donnie finally catch up to another jeep. She cuts them off and gets out in front of them. She asks where the girl that was reading the magazine, Teenage Wasteland, went. Nobody replies, and Debbie says she really needs some beauty tips. Everyone in the van doesn't understand her. Just then, Debbie sees another jeep heading off in the opposite direction. Debbie gets back in her jeep and drives after them.

Eliza finally catches up to the elephant. She tries to talk to it, but the elephant runs off. Eliza runs after her and says that she only has a question. Darwin tells her that the question doesn't matter. He tells the elephant to tell Eliza how great the preserve is. The elephant agrees with Eliza and says that it isn't as fun. Eliza tells Darwin that she knew that it was terrible. The elephant tells her that the ostriches like it, and the older animals don't mind it. But she tells them that she doesn't like it. Eliza says that she understands and says that her mother probably tells her all the time that it's nice. The elephant tells her that her mother isn't in the preserve. She's out on the savannahs doing what she wants, and says that she wishes she was there with her. Eliza tells her that she'll try and get her out of the preserve to her mother. Darwin doesn't like the idea, but Eliza tells him it'll be fun. Eliza tells the elephant to meet her here at night and she'll get her out. The elephant really appreciates that. Darwin is frustrated and says that he doesn't understand fun anymore.

Elsewhere, Debbie was finally able to get the new Teenage Wasteland. She goes to show Donnie, but he is not there. Debbie is worried and wonders where he went. Donnie is hiding in a nearby bush and he wants to touch the fence again. He starts running towards it and cuts off a jeep. Everyone in the van doesn't know what Donnie is, but the driver says that it must be the missing link. They head after him.

Eliza and Darwin head back to the convoy. Darwin tells Eliza that she made a mistake telling the elephant she would break her out. Eliza tells him to stop worrying and says it'll be fun. Darwin says there is nothing fun about this and tells her that the savannah is dangerous at night. Eliza tells him that they need a plan. Darwin notes that Eliza won't be able to roam around after dark. Eliza notes that he's right and says that she'll think of something. Debbie arrives back at camp and says that Donnie escaped. Eliza can't believe it. Debbie assures her that she's going to go find him and asks Eliza to cover for her. Eliza says she will and Debbie thanks her. Eliza has a great idea due to that, and writes a note for her parents.

As evening approaches, Donnie is still trying to get to the electric fence. When he approaches, a jeep turns its headlights on. Donnie is frightened and starts running away.

Back at camp, Marianne is still upset that she wasn't able to get a close up shot of anything but the dentist from Nebraska and his teeth. Marianne asks where Debbie and Eliza are. Nigel tells her that Eliza left a note saying that they were invited to a barbeque and won't be home till late. Nigel says that means they won't be around for dinner. Marianne is glad that they found kids to hang out with. Nigel says it's too bad they can't join them for dinner because Jomo invited them for dinner. He says that he'll be roasting some kippers, and Marianne isn't too thrilled about that. Marianne asks if she can stay at the convoy since she isn't feeling well. Nigel says that she can and heads off to the dinner with Jomo.

Eliza and Darwin head off to meet up with the elephant. Darwin says that he's really starting to understand the fun aspect and tells her that he thinks he's being quiet. Eliza notes he was until a second ago. They meet up with the elephant near the bushes. Over by the convoy, Marianne hears some elephants in the savannah and gets in a jeep to go find them for some footage. Eliza, Darwin, and the elephant wait near the gates. Darwin says that he's feeling different all of a sudden and Eliza notes that Darwin is having fun. Eliza notes that there is a guard at the gates. She notes that if Darwin distracts him, they'll be able to get through. Darwin thinks that will be fun and heads over to the tower. Darwin runs over the guard and starts jumping around on the table. The guard is very entertained and Darwin steps on the gate button to open it. The guard asks if Darwin likes the shiny keys. Darwin grabs the keys and throws them into the bushes. The guard runs to go retrieve them. Eliza tells Darwin that they can go now. Eliza, Darwin, and the elephant leave the preserve and walk right past Marianne who cannot find any elephants.

Inside the preserve, Debbie continues to search for Donnie. She stops a jeep that has a cage in the back seat. She asks the drivers if they've seen a crazy boy with wild hair. The driver says that many people have seen him, and that they think that it's the missing link. Debbie assures him that he's missing, but isn't a link to anything. The driver says they're going to catch him and send him to a university for some studies. Debbie is worried. While Debbie searches for Donnie, Nigel enjoys his dinner of kippers. Jomo tells Nigel about the missing link that people have seen in the preserve. Nigel is excited and thinks that it's awesome there's a new species. He says they need to go see it.

Eliza, Darwin, and the elephant wait by the waterhole where the elephant says she spent most of her time at with her mother. She thought that she might be here. Suddenly, a leopard jumps out at them. Eliza wants to see if she can talk to him. Darwin tells her it's no use and starts to rethink his idea of fun. He tells them that he thinks fun is a trick that humans use on animals like him. The elephant starts to rise up and slam its front legs down on the ground. This scares the leopard and it runs away. Nearby, Marianne hears the elephant and drives toward the sound to get some footage. Suddenly, a larger elephant appears on the ridge above them. It's the elephant's mother. The mother lets out a large trumpet noise. Unfortunately, it alerts some poachers that are nearby. They hurry into their jeep and drive towards the area.

The mother is happy to see her daughter, Yaumweise, and says that she's grown up so much. Yaumweise tells her that she got lost trying to find the waterhole and before she knew it she was stuck behind the fence. Mother tells her that she was worried about her and searched for days. She says that she finally saw her at the preserve and admits that she was happy that she was there because she was safe. Yaumweise tells her that she missed her. Mother says she missed her too, but says that she should have stayed inside the preserve. Eliza says that Yaumweise was miserable inside the preserve. Mother tells her that she was at least safe in the preserve. She tells the kids that it's dangerous living out on the savannah.

Yaumweise says that she was able to scare off the leopard. Mother tells her that she's not concerned about leopards out here. Suddenly, the poachers arrive and spot Mother, Yaumweise, Eliza, and Darwin. She tells them that they have to hide. Everyone starts running. Yaumweise asks who those men are, but she doesn't get a reply.

Elsewhere, Marianne is driving by and she sees the poachers chasing after the elephants. She starts driving towards them. Eliza, Darwin, Yaumweise, and Mother all hide behind some bushes. Eliza says that if she can divert the poachers, the others will be able to get back inside the preserve. Darwin says that isn't a good idea. Eliza says she knows but she doesn't like the idea either. While the poachers are searching, Eliza crawls away from the group. She is able to get to a secluded spot and is able to use her ability to talk to animals to sound like an elephant. The poachers get in the jeep and head off in the opposite direction. The poachers head straight for Marianne's jeep as it is coming down the hill. Marianne swerves and ends up crashing into a ditch. The poachers also turn and end up flipping their vehicle. Eliza and the others run towards the preserve. Marianne wakes up to see the poachers trying to flip their vehicle upright. They notice Marianne and they start to get angry that she caused them to wreck. Marianne picks up her camera and tells them not to come any closer or they'll be documented for the entire world to see. This doesn't seem to bother the poachers and they start chasing after Marianne with their jeep.

Eliza tells the group to stop and she says that she thinks that her mother was back there. Mother Elephant wants to help, but Darwin asks who they should get for help. Eliza sees the fence of the preserve on one side and the jeep and Marianne coming from another direction. Eliza tells everyone to follow her.

Inside the preserve, a bunch of jeeps surround Donnie while he's busy shocking himself on the electric fence. The group starts to close in on him so they can catch him. Outside, Eliza tells Mother Elephant to crash through the fence so they can get in. Mother Elephant starts to charge toward it. Inside, Donnie continues to electrocute himself, and is almost caught in a net when Debbie reaches him and grabs him. She tells him that they need to get home before he becomes a research study. Donnie is glad to see Debbie and licks her face like a dog. Debbie is grossed out. Debbie tells all of the tourists to leave. But instead of doing that, they all start taking pictures of her. Mother Elephant starts to get very close to the fence. Debbie screams at everyone again to leave. This time, people get in their jeeps and flee in fright. Debbie thinks she was the reason, but then she sees the elephant crash through the fence. Eliza accidentally knocks Debbie down as well. Debbie is angry, but Eliza tells her she'll explain later. She climbs up to the watch tower.

Outside, Marianne is still trying to hide from the poachers. Suddenly, a spotlight shines on her. It alerts her to the broken fence, but it also alerts the poachers. They start to give chase. Marianne is able to run through the hole in the fence while the poachers give chase. When they get inside, they are quickly surrounded by the preserve rangers. Marianne asks if that was Eliza on the spotlight. Eliza says yes. Marianne thanks her and asks how she knew that she was out there. Eliza has no response. Nigel and Jomo arrive and Nigel says that someone found a missing primate. Not knowing that it's Donnie, he asks if anyone's seen it. Donnie jumps on Nigel and Debbie notes that it could be Donnie. Nigel says that he's always just thought of Donnie as a boy, and asks if Donnie's been holding out on him. Donnie tells Nigel to be quiet. Jomo tells Nigel that they also caught poachers that drove into the preserve after Marianne.

The next morning, Marianne is very upset that she still doesn't have any close-up footage of the elephants. Over in the nearby bushes, Mother Elephant and Yaumweise thank Eliza for all that she's done. Mother wants to do something for Eliza. Eliza says that she doesn't need anything, but she says that Marianne needs something. While Marianne continues to pack up her things, Mother Elephant walks up to the convoy. Marianne sees a large shadow and looks up to see her standing right in front of her. Marianne gets very happy and is able to get footage of Mother Elephant trumpeting. The episode ends with Eliza and Yaumweise smiling over the great things they've done.


  • It is revealed in this episode that Debbie's favorite magazine is Teenage Wasteland.


Darwin: I think fun is a dirty trick you humans play on primates!