That funky monkey found wearing a fancy shearling coat and gallivanting about a Toronto Ikea parking lot has indeed captivated an adoring public, some of whom gathered as his owner demanded his release from a primate sanctuary.
Darwin, as he is known, has been declared by the Guardian as the most fashionable pet of the year, beating cats owned by fashion designers and Kim Kardashian. He has inspired tattoos, Internet memes and a few of my own half-written ballads.
But now the circus is over and the legal wrangling has begun.
CBC reports that Yasmin Nakhuda — self-described as Darwin’s “human mother” — appeared in court on Thursday to ask for her monkey back. She argued that the city’s animal services department had no right to take custody of Darwin.
The case has been adjourned until the New Year, but Nakhuda argued that she should have possession of the monkey over the holiday, lest the familial bond be broken. A judge will rule on Friday whether Darwin will be released into her care.
[ Related: Ikea monkey's owner in court in bid for his return ]
Nakhuda signed over ownership of Darwin after he was recovered from the Ikea parking lot earlier this month. But she claims she did so under the threat of criminal charges.
Toronto bylaws prohibit keeping macaque monkeys as pets in the city. But Nakhuda says she is ready to leave the city if it means being reunited with Darwin.
If that is the case, why would Animal Services have needed Nakhuda to sign away ownership in the first place?
Nakhuda told a gathering of supporters on Wednesday, according to the National Post:
Darwin belongs to me. He was not an animal in distress. He did not need to be rescued. The sanctuary says they are there to protect animals, to prevent them living in fear. Darwin was not living in fear. Darwin was a very happy little monkey.
It is a complicated legal affair that centres on the fact that Nakhuda wasn’t allowed to own a monkey in Toronto, but did anyway. And somehow that monkey escaped. That the tiny monkey, adorable on its worst day, was dressed in a dapper coat and galvanized a meme-mad society doesn’t change that fact.
In the court of public opinion, tiny monkeys in shearling coats belong with their human mothers. Every time. In an actual court, that remains to be seen.