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Court says Ikea Monkey must spend Christmas at sanctuary
Published Friday, December 21, 2012 5:14AM MST
Last Updated Friday, December 21, 2012 5:29PM MST
The family that owns Darwin, the pet monkey who got loose at a Toronto Ikea this month, isn’t happy with a court ruling Friday that will see their pet kept at an Ontario animal sanctuary over the holidays.
Owner Yasmin Nakhuda and her family say the seven-month-old monkey is like a five-year-old child, and should get some time alone with his family.
The family’s displeasure comes after an Oshawa judge ruled Friday morning that Darwin will spend Christmas at a primate sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont., where he has been since he was found wandering around the North York store’s parking lot and interior, wearing a fancy shearling coat and a diaper.
The monkey became an online sensation when his photos went viral after he escaped his crate in a car parked at the furniture store.
Monkeys are not legal pets in Toronto, so authorities seized Darwin and moved him to the sanctuary. Officials have also expressed concerns about the hard-to-detect diseases that can spread to humans from monkeys.
The monkey’s owners had asked the court for permission to pick him up from the sanctuary Friday and bring him back Sunday so he could be “home” for some of the holidays.
Court hearings in January will decide who keeps him long-term.
Darwin’s owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, says she and the seven-month-old Japanese macaque have been inseparable for much of his life and that he sees her as his mother.
She promised the court that she’d move her family to Kawartha Lakes, a nearby region that has no specific ban against owning a pet monkey, if Darwin is returned to her.
The sanctuary, however, says Darwin is thriving at his new home and that staying there is the best option for him.
Sanctuary staff have offered to allow the family to have a supervised visit with their pet over the weekend, but a man identifying himself as one of the monkey’s owners said Friday that he believes that kind of visit would be damaging to the primate.
“Darwin is not a dog, he’s not a cat, and he’s not a lizard,” said Sam Katoush, outside the Oshawa courthouse after the decision. “He’s 93-per-cent human DNA. (He’s) like a five-year old child. How would you feel to see a child behind a cage and be with him outside the cage… I think that’s morally damaging to Darwin.”
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)
Yasmin Nakhuda links arms with her husband and 11-year-old son as she leaves an Oshawa courthouse on Friday, December 21, 2012 after she was denied custody of her famed monkey Darwin. (Michelle Siu / THE CANADIAN PRESS)