Video: 'Ikea monkey' owner in court battle to get Darwin back

Former owner Yasmin Nakhuda is suing the sanctuary for 'illegally detaining' her pet
  • @James_Legge

The court case kicked off yesterday in the long battle for custody of Darwin the Ikea Monkey.

Darwin shot to global fame in December, when photos captured him roaming the car park of an Ikea store in Canada, wearing a Del Boy-style sheepskin coat.

The Japanese rhesus macaque has been in the care of Ontario's Story Book Farm primate sanctuary since the day after.

His former owner Yasmin Nakhuda is suing the sanctuary for “illegally detaining” him.

The trial began yesterday. In his opening remarks, lawyer for the sanctuary Kevin Toyne announced he would not pursue their allegations that Nakhuda abused Darwin, to keep the trial short, saying: “This is not a trial about who loves Darwin the most or who is better able to care for him. Darwin is a piece of property.”

Nakhuda had already denied those allegations, telling reporters yesterday: “You drag somebody’s name in the dirt, in the mud. I had all kinds of accusations against me for months.”

According to the Toronto Star, she has testified that Darwin had become part of the family, bonding with her husband and two sons. She tearfully recalled how Darwin gave her "a chance to experience motherhood again. He was my baby boy.”

She said she left the monkey in the car that day at Ikea because the family had been kicked out of the shop before for having him with them. She said she had a “conversation” with Darwin about staying in the car, which “he understood."

She claims that after Darwin escaped she was “tricked” into signing a surrender form by an animal control officer who made her believe he had the legal right to confiscate the monkey.

Nakhuda alleged that the officer said: “We will let you see him one last time if you sign the form."

She said: "I had no choice."

She has already lost two attempts to win back interim custody. In February, a judge said he ruled against her partly because of her “credibility issues.”

Nakhuda and an animal control officer will testify today, in the trial which is expected to last four days.