Ikea monkey's owner to stage protest for his return
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:45AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:29PM EST
The owner of a pet monkey found wandering in an Ikea parking lot while wearing a tiny shearling coat and a diaper staged a demonstration Wednesday in an effort to get him back.
Yasmin Nakhuda protested outside the Toronto Animal Services offices Wednesday afternoon, one day before she is due in court to fight for the return of her Japanese macaque named ‘Darwin.’
Darwin shot to international fame after photos of the outfitted primate went viral. The seven-month-old monkey had somehow managed to escape from his crate and leave his owner’s car stationed in a North Toronto Ikea parking lot on Dec. 9.
Darwin was then seized by authorities, as it’s illegal to keep monkeys as pets in the city of Toronto. He now resides in a primate sanctuary north of the city.
Nakhuda alleges that Darwin was taken illegally from her and moved to a primate sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont.
She claims she was never given the chance to fix the situation after she was fined $240 for breaking Toronto’s prohibited-animal bylaw.
The real estate lawyer has filed court documents which state that she and her family would be willing to move to a city that would allow her to keep her pet.
None of the allegations contained in the documents have been tested in court.
Nakhuda told CTV News Channel that she had initially tried to return Darwin to its breeder after discovering how much care he required. But by that time, it was too late.
“At the end of the day he had too much bonded with me and he was screaming when I tried to let him go,” she said. “I just didn’t have the heart to let the little guy go.”
Nakhuda, who has called Darwin her son, described the first time she met him as “incredible.”
And it’s because of how much he resembles a human that she has been able to bond with him, she said.
“When I call him 'son,' it’s not because I’m wacko. I call him son because he has so many child-like qualities,” said Nakhuda. “It was not like a dog. It was not like a cat. It was something very, very different.”
Past videos posted to YouTube by Nakhuda show the small monkey participating in a number of activities, often dressed in human clothes.
The latest video posted to her YouTube channel is called “Darwin Monkey Needs His Family Back!!!” In the video, which was posted on Dec. 11, the small monkey trots around Nakhuda’s bed and hops into her outstretched arms for a hug.
Nakhuda said she has received support from many people, including U.S. residents who themselves are monkey-owners.
But former primatologist Andrew Westoll says Darwin should not be living with humans and if he is not returned to an environment where he is around other primates, he could develop “psychological problems.”
Westoll said although he understands Nakhuda felt she was doing something good when she took Darwin under her wing, her fight to keep him will just hurt him in the end.
“That monkey is not going to be able to live with humans forever,” he said. “That monkey is going to grow up. That monkey is going to become aggressive, confused. It’s going to be psychologically traumatized when it grows up to be an adult and to have been raised in a human home.”
Westoll added that as cross-fostered monkeys grow older, they often end up being sold to zoos or into research.
“What we should be doing is thinking about their long-term well-being, not just how they’re feeling in the moment,” he said.
Meanwhile staff at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary say Darwin is doing well since arriving early last week.
Nakhuda has previously contended these claims, saying Darwin had should be able to choose where he lives.
Yasmin Nakhuda stands with supporters outside an Animal Services office in Toronto on Wednesday Dec. 19, 2012. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Yasmin Nakhuda (left) hugs her twelve year old son Misha outside an Animal Services office in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Yasmin Nakhuda appears on CTV News Channel, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012.
A small monkey wearing a winter coat and a diaper exits an IKEA in Toronto on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (The Canadian Press/Bronwyn Page)