On Dec. 9, 2012, Darwin, a Japanese macaque, was found wandering aimlessly outside IKEA’s North York store.
Eventually, the monkey was ushered into a corner of the store by IKEA employees and police until animal services arrived.
“It was pretty scared. It was a tame monkey,” Sgt. Dzingala said at the time. “Nobody got hurt. The monkey was a little scared, that’s all.”
A decade later, we’re revisiting the highly memed, internationally viral moment.
The monkey that launched a thousand memes: Wearing a stylish shearling jacket and diaper, Darwin, a then-seven-month-old Japanese macaque, first captured our attention in 2012. Left in a car while his owner shopped, the monkey escaped, wandered the parking lot, then tried to enter a Toronto IKEA – no doubt in search of a Billy bookcase or Swedish meatballs.
Photos of the stylish primate went viral, sparking parody Twitter accounts, endless memes and international headlines.
One eyewitness, Bronwyn Page, recounted the event for a local TV news crew with the banner “Saw the monkey.” That, too, went viral.
Darwin roamed IKEA for an hour before animal control arrived. After recovering from a “bit of shock,” the pet monkey – illegal in Toronto – was transferred to a primate sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont. His “mom” was charged with owning a prohibited animal and fined $240. Darwin continues to live at the sanctuary, far from the limelight (although he does have a Facebook page) and safe from the exotic pet trade, which often results in the abuse of animals.
The sanctuary’s website says Darwin is a “cheeky little guy” who loves Curious George, peanuts, grapes and cherries.
In a post today, the sanctuary’s Facebook page noted that “Darwin came from a life at the end of a leash wearing clothes and a diaper to a life where he chooses when he wants to go outdoors in the company of other monkeys.”