A battle over the Ikea Monkey’s living arrangements lands in court today in Oshawa, Ont., as a woman who calls herself his mom fights to get him back from a primate sanctuary.
Toronto Animal Services scooped up Darwin the monkey when he was found wandering around a Toronto Ikea parking lot in December wearing a little faux-shearling coat.
He was sent to Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont., and Yasmin Nakhuda has been fighting to get Darwin back ever since.
She has already gone before the court twice in ultimately unsuccessful bids to try to get Darwin back on an interim basis, but now a full trial is starting today.
Nakhuda alleges animal services officers tricked her into surrendering her monkey and says she is willing to move her family to a jurisdiction that allows pet monkeys if she gets him back.
The trial is set to be heard over the last two days in May as well as June 10 and 11.
As the judge who has heard the interim motions has made clear, the case is not a custody battle, since Darwin is not a child. Rather, Nakhuda is asking for an order to recover possession of personal property.
The baby monkey captured hearts and international attention when he was found at the Ikea, but since then he has become the centre of a hotly contested war of words both online and in court.
The sanctuary has alleged in court documents that Nakhuda has abused Darwin and in turn, Nakhuda has had some angry words for the sanctuary.
A Facebook page set up by Nakhuda and her supporters has been home to vicious debates between those who believe Darwin belongs with Nakhuda and those who believe he belongs at the sanctuary.
Nakhuda, a real estate lawyer, has also used social media to post photos and videos of Darwin when she owned him, including her brushing her teeth with Darwin in her arms, Darwin on her back while Nakhuda is on the treadmill, and Darwin bouncing around Nakhuda’s office.
On May 1 she posted a birthday message to Darwin on Facebook, saying it was his first birthday.
“Know that your mommy misses you a lot and would have wanted to be with you on this very special day to shower you with her love and kisses,” Nakhuda wrote.
“Your mommy has not given up on you so don’t lose hope…we will all be together soon and you will blow your birthday candle with us. Big hugs.”