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Darwin, the monkey is pictured in this handout photo taken by Toronto Animal Services, December 10, 2012. (Toronto Animal Services/Handout/Reuters)
Darwin, the monkey is pictured in this handout photo taken by Toronto Animal Services, December 10, 2012. (Toronto Animal Services/Handout/Reuters)


The evolution of a simian star Add to ...

It’s been four months since the IKEA monkey first stepped into the spotlight. Like a hairier, tinier, slightly raspier Emma Stone, he achieved “it” status almost immediately. Now he’s the subject of a tell-all (children’s) book, and the poster child for this weekend’s Darling Darwin Monkey Friends charity fete. It’s a career arc most aspiring starlets would kill for. Here, the rise of Darwin according to the rules of Hollywood:

1. Discovered by a photographer

Like many a future icon – Marilyn Monroe, Iman, Cindy Crawford – Darwin is first spotted by a photographer (or at least someone with a smartphone) in a pedestrian location: the IKEA parking lot. Unlike the aforementioned famous females, he is next discovered by Toronto Animal Services. Getting busted by the authorities is something most ingenues wait at least a few months for.


2. Adopts stage name

Since “Darwin” is already taken (something about the Father of Evolution), the tiny primate adopts “the IKEA Monkey” for professional purposes.

3. Goes viral

The picture from the IKEA parking lot makes the rounds on the Internet. Darwin becomes an instant sensation at a pace that makes even Bieber Fever seem like a slow burn. IKEA monkey out-memes Rob Ford and Ryan Gosling combined.


4. Hits the talk show circuit

Anderson Cooper fawns over Darwin on his daily chat show. Stephen Colbert, who takes umbrage with the whole situation, says: “Note to the media: a monkey at IKEA is not news. A monkey building the Fjell four-door chest with no dowels left over – that’s news.”

5. Becomes a fashion icon

Darwin joins Rihanna and Emmanuel Alt on the U.K. Guardian’s list of 2012 fashion icons. Toronto Life magazine tells its style-savvy readers where they can buy a shearling coat of their own.


6. Kardashian smackdown

Inevitable online “who wore it better?” scrap with Kim Kardashian. (Hint: he did.)


7. Messy legal drama

While his owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, fights for custody in court, Darwin spends time at the Storybook Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario, which is presumably a lot like one of those five-star rehab joints, minus the group therapy and regular Lindsay Lohan sightings.

8. Face on a T-shirt

The upside of being a celeb behind bars: the chance to appear on an eternally trendy “Free so-and-so” T-shirt. Just like Winona Ryder, Katie Holmes and Ms. Lohan before him, Darwin is not just a fashion star, but a fashion statement.


9. Subject of a tell-all book

To pay her legal bills (so far, more than $100,000), Ms. Nakhuda has written a book starring the monkey of the moment. The Adventures of Darling Darwin: Monkey Mess is the first in a series of 12 titles, and will be for sale online, and at Saturday night’s fundraising gala at the Manchurian Madurai Boat House banquet hall.

10. Gets involved in charity

Saturday’s book bash will also serve as a launch for the new charitable organization Darling Darwin Monkey Friends and Co. The group hopes to provide help and support to other exotic pet owners. Tickets to the party are going for $75 a pop, though mega fans be warned: Darwin (who is still at the Storybook sanctuary) will not be making an appearance.


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