The lawyer for a woman trying to get back a Japanese macaque known as the IKEA monkey says she was tricked into surrendering it to animal services.
Darwin the monkey was taken to Toronto Animal Services after he was found wandering an Ikea parking lot wearing a little shearling coat.
Yasmin Nakhuda, the self-professed “Monkey Mom,” went to animal services to get Darwin back that day but ended up signing a surrender form.
Animal services then sent Darwin to the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont., where he has resided ever since.
Nakhuda’s lawyer, Ted Charney, is arguing in court that animal services wrongly told her that once they seized the monkey they owned him and she had to sign the surrender form.
“They tell her, ‘It’s ours. We own it. You’re never getting it back. Sign the form,’" Mr. Charney said.
“They know they can’t keep that monkey unless she signs the form, but that’s what they tell her. It’s a trick.”
An Ontario Superior Court judge in Oshawa is deciding where Darwin should live until the case can be fully heard at a trial.
After an interim motion in December, the judge ruled that Darwin would stay at the sanctuary for the time being.
Ms. Nakhuda maintains she signed the surrender form because she was told that if she did she would not face criminal charges for owning an illegal animal.
One of the officers gave evidence in advance of Thursday’s hearing that he suggested there could be repercussions for Nakhuda under provincial laws if she didn’t sign a form surrendering Darwin.
Ms. Nakhuda has taken her fight to social media, posting videos and photos of Darwin on YouTube and Facebook.
They show him playing at her office, drinking from a baby bottle and splashing around in a bathtub.
The sanctuary has also taken to the Internet to boost support.
It set up a fundraising campaign using pictures of Darwin, and its web site notes that IKEA Canada made a “generous contribution.”