Judge rules IKEA monkey must remain at sanctuary

This small monkey was spotted at a Toronto IKEA in December. It now lives in a primate sanctuary.

Story highlights

  • Darwin the snow macaque wandered into an IKEA store in December
  • Animal services sent the primate to an animal sanctuary
  • Yasmin Nakhuda sued sanctuary to get pet monkey back

Ask friends whether they remember the IKEA monkey, and a few may nod tentatively.

The backstory: On a chilly December day in 2012, a small monkey dressed in a faux shearling coat and diaper appeared inside the doors of a Toronto IKEA store.

The animal appeared frantic, racing around the parking lot and near the store. It created quite a stir. Photos soon appeared on social media, with memes not far behind. A parody Twitter account quickly gained thousands of followers.

The story that emerged left the monkey's caregiver, a real-estate lawyer named Yasmin Nakhuda, in a tough spot. She had reportedly obtained the Japanese snow macaque, named Darwin, illegally when he was just over a month old.

Videos on her YouTube channel provided glimpses of the next seven months, in which she described how often he ate and how much attention he required. But after Darwin's public escape and appearance, she was fined and forced to hand Darwin over to animal services. Animal services quickly turned him over to the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary.

Nakhuda vowed to get Darwin back and filed a lawsuit against the sanctuary. On Friday, a judge ruled against Nakhuda.

Lost monkey roams IKEA

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    Lost monkey roams IKEA

Lost monkey roams IKEA 02:25
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What happened to that IKEA monkey?

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    What happened to that IKEA monkey?

What happened to that IKEA monkey? 03:14
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CBC News reported the judge rejected her argument that Toronto animal services staff duped her and acted illegally by seizing Darwin.

The judge also ruled that Nakhuda purchased Darwin knowing that it was illegal and lied by later saying the animal was a gift, CBC News reported.

Bronwyn Iler Page became Internet famous when she was first to tweet about Darwin: "Umm saw a monkey in the ikea parking lot," alongside a photo of the wistful-looking monkey in his tiny coat.

She still has posted on her Twitter bio, "I saw the monkey #Ikeamonkey." Judging from her newsfeed, Page continues to post about monkeys whenever the opportunity arises.

Attorney Kevin D. Toyne said sanctuary volunteers are very happy and relieved with the decision. Toyne said Darwin is making good progress, becoming a young adult macaque instead of a small child.