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Two years ago this week, shoppers at an Ikea store in north Toronto were surprised to find a rhesus macaque – prohibited in Ontario – wandering around the car park, sporting a diaper and shearling coat. The monkey, named Darwin, had escaped from his now-former owner’s car.
Shoppers snapped images of the tiny monkey with their phones, shared them on microblogging site Twitter, and an internet star was born. Two parody Twitter accounts sprung up, @IKEAmonkey and @Ikea_Monkey, as well as Facebook pages Ikea Monkey, Darling Darwin Monkey and Free Darwin The IKEA Monkey, and a bevy of memes.
Animal services took hold of then-seven-month-old Darwin, who was later turned over to Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario. Darwin’s owner was charged with owning a prohibited animal, an offence that carries a fine of about Cdn$200.
Today, Darwin is doing well at the sanctuary. He has nearly tripled his weight since he first arrived there, and while still a bit shy, he is friendly with the other primates, The Toronto Star reported.
Ikea Monkey no more: Darwin is at home at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. Photo via Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary Facebook page
Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, meanwhile, is looking to expand. To help it do so, it has launched the online Darwin’s Dream crowdfunding campaign. The aim of the campaign is to move Darwin and other primates in the sanctuary’s care to the site of the former Northwood Zoo and Exotic Animal Ranch in Seagrave, Ontario, The Toronto Star reported.
To date, the campaign has raised nearly Cdn$10,000, with a goal of Cdn$490,000.