The owner of the a monkey that was placed in an animal sanctuary after escaping from a car in a Toronto Ikea parking lot says the animal rarely left her side until it was confiscated and that she is desperate to get her 'baby' back.
Darwin, a 7-month-old rhesus macaque, made worldwide headlines and generated countless internet memes on Sunday after it was spotted monkeying around the parking lot of a Toronto Ikea store clad in a diaper and a shearling coat. The "smart monkey," as local police dubbed Darwin, somehow managed to free himself from his crate and then exit the car he was in while owner Yasmin Nakhuda, a real estate attorney, shopped in the store.
Owning monkeys is illegal in Toronto and animal control authorities confiscated Darwin and sent him to live coatless in the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario. Sanctuary president Sherri Delaney told CBC that young Darwin would be paired up with a "motherly" monkey.
Nakhuda told the Toronto Star that Darwin has grown very attached to her ever since she babysat him one day and that he deserved to be returned to her custody.
"It was a babysitting experience that turned into a fatal attraction and put me where I am," Nakhuda said. She added that Darwin rarely left her side.
"He always had to be within my view," she told the Star, adding that he would "get into a panic attack" as soon as he lost sight of her.
"I know he cannot live without me," Nakhuda told CityNews. "And everyone who knows Darwin can vouch for this. He needs his mother like a child needs his mother."
Nakhuda posted YouTube videos of Darwin's daily life with her, including clips of the monkey brushing his teeth, dressing up as the Devil for Halloween and monkeying around in his owner's office.
"He is more than a handful," Nakhuda wrote in the video comments. "[He] needs to be baby bottle fed nighttime and [he] needs at least 3 diaper changes a day."
"He has to be with me all the time which means he goes with me to the office, sleeps with me, eats with me, showers with me, goes shopping with me," she wrote.
Nakhuda says that she at least wants to be part of Darwin's transition to his new home at Story Book Farm. She is concerned about his well-being since he has shown signs of disliking other monkeys.
Mary Lou Leiher, a spokeswoman for animal services, said that other than being stressed out, Darwin was doing fine. Sanctuary president Sherri Delaney said Nakhuda would be allowed to visit Darwin once he got settled in at his new home.
Nakhuda was fined $240 for illegally owning the monkey. She has consulted an attorney to see if she may be able to regain custody of Darwin.