The sanctuary where Darwin the Ikea monkey has been living says the Japanese macaque is “learning how to be a monkey again.”
On Dec. 10, 2012, Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont. acquired Darwin after he was captured wandering an Ikea parking lot. The 7-month-old monkey had been raised by his human “mom,” Yasmin Nakhuda.
“When he came to us, he was lacking in confidence and unsure how to act around other monkeys,” said Izzy Hirji, chair of the sanctuary’s board of directors. “Through being able to see and interact with the other guys, he’s growing into a healthy, confident adolescent.”
Nakhuda launched a lawsuit a week after losing her beloved monkey, alleging the sanctuary was “illegally detaining” Darwin. A judge ruled in September that the macaque should stay at the sanctuary.
Nakhuda, a real estate lawyer who called the monkey her “son,” dressed him in clothing and diapers and took him everywhere she went, has since launched an appeal of the decision.
“I love him and I want him back. This is injustice,” she told the Star Wednesday. “If I really felt in my heart that justice was served, then I would let it go.”
She declined a full interview because she doesn’t want to be accused of seeking media attention. Her fight for Darwin has always been about her love for him, nothing else, she said.
“I’m not doing this to get my picture in the paper,” she said. “I just need to win him back. I just need him to be back home.”
According to Hirji, the nine-month lawsuit “took a toll” on the sanctuary’s staff and volunteers, but it also affected the way they care for Darwin.
The monkey has not been introduced to other macaques inside his enclosure because the sanctuary did not want to be liable if something went wrong. Now, it may be too late to introduce him to a friend inside his cage, said Hirji.
“Currently, we’re not sure about that,” he said. “Of course, we would love to have a partner for him to interact with.”
But Hirji pointed out that Darwin does see and interact with other macaques through the mesh lining of his enclosure, and he has begun mimicking the sounds they make.
“The first time we heard him make a distinct macaque vocalization, it was a joyous moment for us,” he said.
Darwin also has a Curious George stuffed monkey that he takes to a tub for a bath, shows where to drink and how to groom, Hirji added.
The macaque, now about 19 months old, has not been viewed by the public since last year, when the sanctuary invited media to view his transfer. The Star has not been allowed to visit during the ongoing legal action.
But Hirji said he is thriving and is about 1.5 times the size that he was when he was first captured. Darwin is now a juvenile and will grow to his full adult size in two years.
The “cheeky little guy” interacts with human handlers daily and enjoys playing on a swing, fire pole, slide and kiddie pool inside his enclosure, which has indoor and outdoor areas that are both about 5 metres wide.
Sanctuary staff are still working to rid him of bad behaviours he learned while being raised by humans, added Hirji.
“He’ll throw temper tantrums when somebody turns their back on him, because he’s used to being the centre of attention,” he said. “(Learning to be a monkey) is going to be an ongoing process for his entire life.”Source