Darwin the 'Ikea monkey' will no longer be hitting the superstores with a Canadian woman who calls him her son after a judge in Ontario ruled that the primate is not a pet and should remain at an animal sanctuary.
As we wrote in December, Darwin, a Japanese macaque dressed in a heavy shearling coat, attracted considerable attention when he escaped from a locked crate in owner Yasmin Nakhuda's car in Toronto. He made his way through rows of parked cars and ended up inside a nearby Ikea store before staff there cornered him and called in animal control officials.
Since then, Nakhuda has been fighting to regain custody of Darwin, but without success. In the latest wrinkle in the ongoing battle on Friday, The Globe and Mail reports that Ontario Superior Court Judge Mary Vallee dismissed a suit brought by Nakhuda against Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, where Darwin has lived since the end of last year.
The newspaper writes:
"The case highlighted the problem of inconsistent regulation from jurisdiction to jurisdiction surrounding exotic animals as pets. Owning a pet monkey is illegal in Toronto, though it became clear in Darwin's case that animal services was unclear about its authority to enforce this law. The exotic animal issue gained further prominence last month after two young New Brunswick boys were killed by a python as they slept. Police in New Brunswick are still investigating that case.
"Justice Vallee's decision partly addresses this, specifying a number of animals that qualify as "wild" (such as lions, tigers, eagles, and deer), and reinforcing that if one of these wild animals escape, a person's ownership is no longer valid. 'A high onus regarding provision of secure housing for wild animals is appropriate to place on their owners,' her decision reads. 'Wild animals, particularly exotic ones, can be dangerous to the public.' "