Here’s what the Toronto IKEA monkey is up to, 10 years later

By Lucas Casaletto

It’s one of the quirkiest stories to come out of Toronto. A small monkey named Darwin was caught roaming around an IKEA in North York precisely 10 years ago today.

Employees discovered seven-month-old Darwin, a Japanese macaque, wearing a winter jacket and immediately became concerned for the animal. Animal services eventually rescued him, but the incident quickly became viral, resulting in memes and more questions than answers.

It was revealed that Darwin was left inside a vehicle while his owner shopped at the IKEA.

He escaped, roamed the parking lot, and went into the store. It’s illegal to own monkeys as pets in Toronto, so Darwin was transferred to a primate sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont. The monkey’s then-owner, a woman, was charged with owning a prohibited animal and fined $240.

Darwin is still there 10 years later, and the Ontario sanctuary decided to honour the now-famous monkey.

“What were you doing 10 years ago today? Darwin was out Christmas shopping and became a worldwide sensation,” wrote Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary on Facebook.

“Darwin came from a life at the end of a leash wearing clothes and a diaper to a life where he chooses when he wants to go outdoors in the company of other monkeys.”

The shelter says that Darwin was born in 2012 as part of the exotic pet trade.

“Darwin had been imprinted by humans, which rarely bodes well for a monkey. He was very insecure upon arrival, and needed to be the centre of everyone’s attention. He was sheltered from the other monkeys until he got used to his surroundings.”

Story Book Farm says that Darwin made strides and eventually learned to speak macaque.

“He has grown in size and confidence as well and was slowly transitioning towards having multiple caregivers he can trust and love as his ‘troop,’ as he had no real monkey mother to show him the ropes.”

The sanctuary describes Darwin as a “Curious George” and a “cheeky little guy” with tons of energy. He loves grapes, dates and cherries and is always looking for new toys donated to the primate sanctuary.


Darwin, the monkey. Photo: Story Book Farm.

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