OSHAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s most famous monkey will not be donning his tiny Santa suit with his adoptive family this year, after a judge ruled on Friday that the primate should stay at an animal sanctuary until at least mid-January.
The animal’s owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, tearfully navigated through a throng of reporters and cameras after being told she would not be allowed to take the 7-month-old monkey home for the holidays. Another hearing is set for January.
Darwin, a rhesus macaque monkey, shot to social-media fame this month after he was video-taped scurrying around an Ikea store parking lot in Toronto, clad in a fake shearling coat and diaper. He was later captured by animal control officers.
Monkeys are not legal pets in Toronto, so authorities moved Darwin to a sanctuary near Oshawa, about an hour outside Toronto. Nakhuda, a real estate lawyer, then launched a court bid to try to get him back.
In a statement of claim filed earlier this month, Nakhuda said she was coerced into surrendering the monkey under the threat of criminal charges and told she would not be allowed to see him unless she cooperated.
If granted custody, Nakhuda said she plans to move her family to a nearby cottage town that does not specifically ban pet monkeys. Darwin has lived with the family in their Toronto home since July.
The young monkey escaped from an animal crate in a parked car as his owners shopped at Ikea in early December. The monkey became an instant Internet sensation, complete with his own Twitter account.
Nakhuda has posted videos on YouTube showing the monkey brushing his teeth and dressed up for Halloween. She told local media that she has a Santa suit for him to wear at Christmas and a bow tie for New Year’s Eve.
Writing by Julie Gordon; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Sandra Maler