No 'family' reunion for Ikea monkey during court fight, judge rules
Published Friday, February 1, 2013 6:26AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 1, 2013 12:49PM EST
Darwin the "Ikea monkey” will stay right where he is until a trial is held in the spring that will decide who rightfully owns him, a Superior Court judge in Oshawa has ruled.
Darwin, a Japanese macaque monkey, has been living at an animal sanctuary northeast of Toronto since early December, when he was found running loose in an Ikea parking lot wearing only a diaper and a tiny shearling coat.
His former owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, who refers to herself as the young monkey's “mom” was fined since It is prohibited to own a macaque monkey as a pet in Toronto.
Nakhuda wanted the animal returned to her family until the trial deciding ownership is held. Nakhuda argued that if she were to be awarded custody after the trial, the long separation would damage her bond with the little primate.
Justice Michael Brown said in his ruling that, in his view, Nakhuda had not established a high degree of probability that she would be successful at regaining custody at trial.
"I am not satisfied that the plaintiff has established that there is a high degree of assurance that she will succeed at trial," Brown said. "That is not to say in any way that she will not be successful at trial. She may very well be."
He also didn’t agree that any irreparable harm would come to either Darwin, Nakhuda, or their bond if the monkey were to stay at the sanctuary in the interim.
He also cited "credibility" issues in the case, but did not elaborate.
Nakhuda's lawyer, Ted Charney, insists Toronto Animal Services tricked his client into signing a form surrendering ownership of the monkey after the Ikea incident.
But the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary has responded with accusations that Nakhuda abused the monkey while he was in her care and couldn’t control his biting. Those allegations have not been proven in court.
The sanctuary's lawyer also argued that a wild animal is no longer the property of a human if it escapes and returns to the wild. That’s what Darwin was trying to do when it escaped Nakhuda’s car at the Ikea, the lawyer argued.
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)
Darwin the monkey and owner Yasmin Nakhuda brush their teeth in this screen grab from a YouTube video.