The (Ikea) Monkey Trial: Yasmin Nakhuda fights for return of macaque

Owner alleges tiny primate was illegally seized

OSHAWA, Ont. – A judge in Oshawa, Ont., is to hear a motion today on whether a Japanese macaque monkey named Darwin should be returned to a Toronto woman.

Yasmin Nakhuda alleges the tiny primate was illegally taken from her by Toronto animal control officials and moved to the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont.

The sanctuary is asking the judge to adjourn the case for several reasons, including a request for more time to gather evidence.

The young monkey captured worldwide attention earlier this month when he was spotted wandering in a Toronto Ikea parking lot wearing a tiny shearling coat.

In court documents, Nakhuda says she, her husband and their two kids would be willing to move to a city that allows monkeys in order to keep Darwin, whom they consider part of the family.

The sanctuary claims in its court filing that it now owns Darwin, arguing that unlike domestic animals, wild animals are owned by the person that possesses them and Nakhuda voluntarily turned the monkey over to Toronto Animal Services.

Nakhuda protested at a Toronto Animal Services office Wednesday as part of her efforts to get Darwin back.

About 15 people urging animal services to “free Darwin” turned out to support Nakhuda, who is a real estate lawyer.

Nakhuda says she was never given the chance to remedy the situation after being fined $240 for breaking the city’s prohibited-animal bylaw.

“I’ve spoken to a number of people in the legal community and they do agree that there is no statute allowing the city to take an animal away based on the circumstances,” she said Wednesday.

“Hopefully, based on the law, the judge will decide that Darwin should be returned to his rightful owner,” Nakhuda said at the protest.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.