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'Ikea Monkey's' former owner stages protest for his return

Protesters, including Darwin's former owner, gathered outside a Toronto Animal Services office on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in an effort to get him back.

TORONTO, Ont. – “Free Darwin,” says placards at a protest urging the return of the now world-famous monkey that escaped a vehicle and frolicked in a North York Ikea parking lot.

The former owner of Darwin, Yasmin Nakhuda, and about 15 protesters, demonstrated outside the Toronto Animal Services’ Sheppard Avenue West office, in an effort to get the pint-sized monkey back.

Nakhuda alleges the primate was illegally taken from her. She will appear in court Thursday to try to get an interim order to have the tiny monkey returned to her.

“I am feeling pretty good based on what my legal advisors have been telling me,” she said. “At the end of the day, you have to sit in front of judge and decide. It can go either way.”

Nakhuda said she is the Ikea monkey’s “mom.”

“Unless you’ve owned a primate, you can’t really understand my relationship with Darwin,” she said. “He was not a dog. He was not a cat. He was a little person.”

“He would act like a little child. Therefore, when I call him my son, I’m not mental.”

Her 12-year-old son, Misha, said he is distraught over Darwin’s removal.

“I miss him,” he said. “He was practically like my little brother.”

Darwin now lives at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont.

Animal services identified Darwin as a rhesus macaque, which is illegal in Toronto. Nakhuda was fined $240 under the Toronto Municipal Code for keeping a prohibited animal.

The monkey captured worldwide attention earlier this month when he was spotted roaming in the parking lot of a North York Ikea, clad in a faux-shearling coat.