A disoriented monkey was found wandering aimlessly outside an IKEA store in North York Sunday.
The animal sighting quickly sparked a flurry of activity among Torontonians, who tweeted and re-tweeted pictures and created at least two parody accounts on Twitter.
Dressed in a shearling coat and a diaper, the monkey managed to open its crate, unlock the car door and go for a stroll in the IKEA parking lot – clearly a "smart monkey" for having managed all that, said Toronto Police Staff Sergeant Ed Dzingala.
The monkey was ushered into a corner of the store by IKEA employees and police until animal services arrived. The monkey was unharmed, although it was a bit alarmed with all the attention, police said.
"It was pretty scared. It was a tame monkey," Sgt. Dzingala said. "Nobody got hurt. The monkey was a little scared, that's all."
A city of Toronto spokesman said the monkey is a rhesus macaque, a species that is illegal in Ontario. Steve Johnston said charges were laid against the owner, an offence notice, which has a set fine of $240 for having a prohibited animal in the city.
The monkey caused quite a stir at the IKEA store Sunday afternoon, as shoppers out to pick up Christmas presents or furniture couldn't help but be drawn to the incident.
Lisa Lin, an Aurora resident, had just arrived at IKEA, around Leslie St. and Highway 401, Sunday afternoon to make some returns and purchase Christmas cards when she noticed the activity. She immediately snapped a picture of the monkey and later posted it on Instagram.
"It was pretty surreal," said Ms. Lin, 30. "I thought 'Is that really a monkey?' Who brings a monkey to IKEA?"
Bronwyn Page, a Toronto resident, was at IKEA buying a Christmas tree when she noticed the monkey. She said the small animal seemed nervous as it surrounded by a group of people, and made screeching noises.
She tweeted her pictures of the monkey, which instantly went viral on Twitter. Ms. Page received interview requests from media outlets across the city. Of her experience, she said: "I'm glad I took a picture. This day has taken a big turn. I didn't expect it."
The monkey was still with Toronto Animal Services Sunday night. A woman who answered the phone at animal services said the monkey was "good to go," keeping warm and no longer scared by the new surroundings.