Ikea monkey awaiting arrival of new roommates as sanctuary expands

A small monkey wearing a winter coat and a diaper apparently looks for its owners at an IKEA in Toronto on Sunday Dec. 9, 2012.
Image Credit: Bronwyn Page/THE CANADIAN PRESS

On the eve of the Ikea monkey's third anniversary at a sanctuary, workers are building enclosures for two potential roommates.

Darwin has been living at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary northeast of Toronto since Dec. 9, 2012 when a court placed him there after he was found wandering outside a Toronto Ikea store wearing a shearling coat.

Daina Liepa, a board member with the sanctuary, says two new Rhesus macaque monkeys will be arriving in January after being in a transplant research lab at a Canadian university for the past three years.

She says the monkeys have known nothing but the inside of a laboratory, and will take their first steps outside when they arrive at Story Book.

Liepa says Darwin has been alone in his enclosure since arriving because he wasn't a good match to be paired with two more dominant female macaques.

But, she says, new monkeys Cody and Pugsley are younger males that should fit well with Darwin's increasing energy levels.

"He's a typical teenager now, very loud and swinging and running and jumping all the time," Liepa said.

Darwin and 19 other monkeys at Story Book faced eviction last summer after the former owners of the sanctuary wanted out after a divorce.

The board had trouble raising money to buy the land and the monkeys until two new owners, who wish to remain anonymous, came forward to buy the sanctuary.

Liepa said the new enclosures are only temporary as the sanctuary is in the final stages of designing a brand new facility made of shipping containers — pieced together like Lego blocks — that they hope to begin in the spring if fundraising efforts go well.

Liepa said the new facility will be built to house 40 monkeys, with the ability to expand further to hold upwards of 100 monkeys, all of which are former pets, laboratory animals and those that are part of Ontario's underground exotic pet trade.


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