'IKEA Monkey' to remain in primate sanctuary

Sept. 14, 2013 at 1:40 AM

TORONTO, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A Canadian judge ruled Friday that Darwin, a macaque who became famous as the "IKEA monkey" after his escape, will not be returned to his former owner.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Mary Vallee said Yasmin Nakhuda of Toronto lost ownership of the monkey when he broke out of a locked carrier in her car in December because he is legally a "wild animal," The (Toronto) Globe and Mail reported. The judge said Darwin will remain in Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary.

Darwin became a celebrity when he was found in an IKEA parking lot in North York. Video of the animal dressed in a tiny shearling coat went viral on the Internet.

Nakhuda, who calls herself Darwin's "mom," has been fighting a lengthy legal battle for the return of her pet. Vallee, in her ruling in Nakhuda's lawsuit against the sanctuary, said that standards are higher for animals defined as "wild," with owners losing them if they escape.

Kevin Toyne, the sanctuary's lawyer, said his clients are glad to have a decision.

"These are people who are dedicated to helping abused and neglected primates, and it's been a trying time for them," he said.

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