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article imageOp-Ed: Ikea monkey Darwin should be returned to his 'Mom' Yasmin Nakhuda

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 29, 2015 in Odd News
Yasmin Nakhuda has been back in the news of late, along with Darwin the rhesus monkey. You'll remember Yasmin as the woman who owned Darwin and that he was taken from her when he was found wandering in an Ikea parking lot in Toronto.
Darwin in Ikea parking lot
Yes, she went into an Ikea in the winter of 2012 and didn't lock the then-7-and-a-half-month-old Darwin properly into his cage and her car. He got out of both, likely looking for his 'mom' and was spotted in the parking lot by shoppers with a sheepskin coat on and looking rather forlorn.
There is a by-law in Toronto against the owning of exotic pets, which Darwin is considered to be. Yasmin was fined and Darwin was taken from her and given to an animal sanctuary north of Toronto called Story Book Farm. Nakhuda tried reason to get him back, noting that she'd had him since he was a month-and-a-half and he'd bonded with her as his mother.
He virtually lived on her back and when she tried to give him back to the person in Montreal who had asked her to care for him temporarily, it didn't work out well and she agreed to take him back. But reasoning wasn't going to work with at Toronto Animal Services or Story Book (who actually did not even know the kind of monkey he was).
"How do we know what he needs unless he’s given the right to choose?” she asked CP24 cable station not long after he was taken from her. “I think he should be given the right to choose. If he chooses something else than me, that’s fine. For me, it has never been about me, it has always been about him."
Caring for Darwin: Hard work
She noted that she learned to care for him by trial and error and asked if anyone at the sanctuary would be willing to do the things she was willing to do to bring him up happy and healthy.
“He is more than a handful," she said. "(He) needs to be baby bottle fed night time and needs at least three 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."
But neither logic nor an appeal to Story Book's sense of fair play worked, so she launched a lawsuit to win him back from Story Book, who'd launched a funding drive to raise money to help pay the costs of caring for him. She is a lawyer but that wasn't going to help her win and when it became clear she would lose she dropped the lawsuit. She had to pay Story Book's costs.
Nakhuda buys 2 rhesus monkeys
Meantime, to help fill the void Darwin's absence has caused, Nakhuda has bought two other monkeys of the same breed, each 6-years-old, Sumo, a male, and Tibet, female, and is living in the Ontario community of Pontypool in the Kawartha Lakes, an area without a bylaw against the pets. She bought them from the Northwood Zoo and Animal Sanctuary in Seagrave, who were seeking a care-giver for Sumo and Tibet.
Nakhuda is by all accounts a loving keeper of these creatures and has bonded with them. Just take a look at the two of them brushing their teeth together; there's a moment where Darwin reverses the toothbrush and Yasmin lovingly whips it back around and he keeps on. It's a very sweet moment.
It seems flat-out wrong that Darwin was taken from her and both arrogant and cruel that Story Book refuses to give back her family member. The accident that lost Darwin was just that, an accident, it does not indicate she can't care for him.
A fine and insistence that she move to an area without a by-law against owning monkeys would have been a fair resolution. She's shown she's willing to make such a move to have the pets that she cares for, the pets she knows how to care for, and wants to care for. A group of her supporters has a Facebook page asking that the monkey be returned to his rightful owner. Fairness dictates Darwin be given back to Yasmin Nakhuda.
The two, now along with Sumo and Tibet, belong together.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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