By Ian Munroe
The saga of Darwin, the young monkey found wandering outside a Toronto Ikea store, is leading to calls by animal protection groups for stronger laws on exotic pets.
Befuddled shoppers spotted the tiny macaque, clad in a shearling coat and diaper, in the parking lot outside the North York Ikea on Sunday, after he escaped his owner’s vehicle.
Darwin was eventually corralled by workers at the store, before being seized by animal control officials and transferred to a primate sanctuary northeast of Toronto. His owners were fined $240 for breaking the city's prohibited-animal bylaw.
Images of the monkey set social media alight and garnered headlines worldwide. But animal protection groups say the bizarre incident has also shed light on the hodgepodge of Canadian rules governing which exotic animals can be kept as pets and where.
"It’s just a complete mess right across the country," said Rob Laidlaw, executive director at Zoocheck Canada.
While some provinces have passed laws prohibiting certain exotic creatures — usually those deemed to pose a potential risk to public health — others, including Ontario, "download those responsibilities onto the municipalities," he said.
So when it comes to exotic animals, "for all intents and purposes it’s unregulated in Ontario," since owners can choose to live outside the limits of any municipality that has a list of prohibited animals on its books, Laidlaw said. More....