IKEA Monkey

IKEA Monkey

Updated Sep 17, 2013 at 09:28PM EDT by Brad.

Added Dec 11, 2012 at 01:27PM EST by Don.

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IKEA Monkey is the nickname given to a Japanese snow macaque named Darwin that was found loose wearing a coat at a Canadian IKEA store in December of 2012.


Twitter user Bronwyn Iler Page tweeted a photograph of a Japanese snow macaque monkey wearing a shearling coat at an IKEA store in Toronto, Canada on December 9th, 2012. Within three days, the tweet received over 415 retweets and 158 favorites.


The same day, Twitter user Lisa Lin tweeted a new photograph of the same monkey standing in front of a window at IKEA, receiving over 120 retweets and 40 favorites within the next three days.

As the photograph of the monkey began spreading online, the @Ikea_Monkey novelty Twitter account was created, which posted tweets from the perspective of the juvenile macaque.

That same day, Gawker[1] published an article titled “Shearling Coat-Wearing Monkey Found Wandering Around Canadian Ikea,” which reported that the monkey was roaming the store for an hour before animal control arrived. The article was later updated to include tweets from Tom Podolec of CTV News, who reported that the six-month-old macaque would not be returned to its owners.

On December 10th, Redditor toucher submitted Bronwyn Page’s photograph of the monkey to the /r/WTF[6] subreddit, where it received over 18,700 up votes and 440 comments within 24 hours.

The same day, Redditor go4 submitted a post titled “IKEA Monkey Explanation” to the /r/funny[2] subreddit, which featured an I Should Buy a Boat Cat image macro with the caption “I was supposed to pick up Carl” above Lisa Lin’s photograph of the IKEA monkey (shown below). Within 24 hours, the post received over 30,400 up votes and 350 comments.

Also on December 10th, Redditor eppemsk submitted an image macro titled “IKEA Monkey contemplates past life choices”[7] (shown below, left) and Gawker[3] published a follow-up article titled “The Best of IKEA Monkey, the Meme,” highlighting several image macros and photoshopped pictures of the IKEA Monkey (shown below, right).

On December 10th, CBS News[5] published an article titled “Twitter goes bananas for #IkeaMonkey,” reporting that the hashtag #IkeaMonkey accumulated over 2,300 tweets that day. As of December 11th, 2012, eight Facebook[8] pages with “Ikea monkey” in the title have been created.

IKEA Monkey the Video Game

Later that same month, a group of students led by Seneca College animation professor Barnabas Wornoff released a flash-based video game[9] inspired by Darwin. In the game, the player can control the monkey as it wanders through the IKEA parking lot to look for various tools and parts needed to assemble a wall shelf while dodging rogue shopping carts and hurling monkey feces at other customers to clear the way. Upon the completion of the bookshelf, the player wins the game.

Owner Speaks Out

On December 11th, ABC News[4] published an article titled “‘IKEA Monkey’ Owner Vows to Fight for Primate’s Return,” reporting that the monkey’s owner Yasmin Nakhuda wants to reunite with the pet monkey and arrange its return from the Story Book Farm primate sanctuary where it had been taken into custody by Toronto Animal Services. In an interview with ABC News, Nakhuda stated:

“They’re showing that he’s really happy but I don’t think that’s the actual picture of what’s happening,” she said. “I don’t see him adjusting that easily and he’s very fragile in the sense that emotionally he needs someone he’s used to.”

Legal Battle

On December 16th, Nakhuda filed a lawsuit against the Story Book Farm claiming that animal control had no right to seize Darwin and that the sanctuary was trying to exploit her pet animal’s viral fame. In an interview with the local radio station 680 News, Nakhuda’s attorney stated:

“Now they’re prominently displaying Darwin on the front of their homepage … and they’re using [their] Facebook pages to raise donations,” said Nakhuda’s lawyer Ted Charney. “In the meantime, my client has not had any access to see her pet.”

In the following months, Nakhuda unsuccessfully filed for temporary ownership of Darwin on two separate hearings in court, during one of which the sanctuary fired back with an allegation that the plaintiff had physically abused the monkey by “strangling” him and striking his head with a wooden spoon.

On May 30th, 2013, the four-day trial of Nakhuda’s bid for permanent ownership of the monkey began in court, where the lawyer representing the sanctuary promptly withdrew the previous allegations of abuse against the plaintiff. Nakhuda was the first witness to testify at the outset of the trial, who alleged that the animal services tricked her into surrendering the monkey:

“I think when I had my two children I didn’t have time to mother them -- I was more focused on building my practice,” Nakhuda said through tears. “Having Darwin…was like the chance to experience motherhood again…I treated him like my son. It sounds bizarre to some people, but that’s how we treated him.”

On September 13th, 2013, The Globe and Mail[13] reported that Nakhuda’s suit against Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary was dimissed by Ontario Superior Court Judge Mary Vallee, who ruled that Darwin should remain in custody of the sanctuary since owning a pet monkey is illegal in Toronto.

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