The Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary (SBFPS) is pleased that Yasmin Nakhuda, the former owner of Darwin, a.k.a. IKEA Monkey, will not be pursuing her appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. With the dismissal of Ms. Nakhuda's appeal, SBFPS now assumes permanent care and ownership of Darwin.
In September 2013, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that Darwin is a wild animal and that Ms. Nakhuda lost ownership once he escaped from her car. The judge ruled that SBFPS now owns Darwin and also ordered Ms. Nakhuda to pay SBFPS a costs award in excess of $83,000, although the overwhelming majority of this settlement was used to cover legal costs incurred by SBFPS in the legal battle to maintain custody of Darwin. She subsequently announced her decision to seek a hearing before Ontario's Court of Appeal in an attempt to reverse the Ontario Superior Court's decision.
Born in 2012, Darwin was part of Canada's exotic pet trade and had lived in a family home in Toronto. He was found as an infant in a Toronto IKEA parking lot in December 2012 after escaping from his owner's car and later seized by local authorities. A social media and worldwide news sensation, Darwin has resided at SBFPS in Sunderland, Ontario ever since.
According to Sherri Delaney, founder of the sanctuary, Darwin's story focuses much-needed attention on the sale of exotic animals as pets taking place across Canada.
"Unfortunately, Darwin was imprinted by humans in his early and formative months which rarely bodes well for a monkey," Delaney says. "When he arrived at the sanctuary, Darwin was very insecure and needed to be the centre of everyone's attention. He was sheltered from our other monkeys until he got used to his surroundings."
Since then, Delaney reports that Darwin has grown in strides and is slowly but surely learning to be more monkey than human. He grooms one of his neighbours and has learned how to mimic other residents' vocalizations. Darwin has grown in size and confidence as well, and was slowly transitioned towards having multiple caregivers who he can trust and love as his 'troop', as he had no monkey mother to assist in his natural development.
"Darwin now weighs approximately 11 pounds and when he's fully grown, he will weigh at least 24 pounds," says Delaney. "This underscores why confining these animals in a human home is inappropriate. With us, Darwin has been given the opportunity to be a monkey.
"With this matter finally behind us, SBFPS's dedicated team of volunteers will ramp up efforts to address Canada's exotic pet trade and raise awareness of the untold harm countless primates are being subjected to," Delaney concluded.
We encourage members of the public to visit Darwin's Facebook page or sign up for our E-Newsletter to receive updates.
Donations for Darwin and the sanctuary's 22 other residents can be made on our website.