Yasmin Nakhuda, Darwin's owner.
Credits: Stan Behal /Sun Photo/ SunMedia/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO — The owner of Darwin the Ikea monkey took to the web Wednesday to defend her fight to get her pet back, insisting the young primate became attached to her to the point of wanting to breastfeed.
During an exclusive live chat on torontosun.com Wednesday, Yasmin Nakhuda likened Darwin, a seven-month-old macaque monkey, to a "needy child" that must be reunited with its human family.
Darwin was found alone — and sporting a jaunty winter coat — in the parking lot of a Toronto Ikea store earlier this month. Toronto Animal Services was called and seized Darwin because it's illegal to keep such an animal as a pet in the city.
Darwin has since been placed in an animal sanctuary outside the city and Nakhuda has launched a legal fight to get the animal back.
When Nakhuda was sarcastically asked by one chat participant if she breastfed the young monkey, the real estate lawyer responded: "No ... Darwin is on baby formula — though he would try to check my breasts out."
She chalked up the animal's behaviour to “nature.”
During the one-hour chat, Nakhuda fielded questions from both supporters and detractors, with many of the latter questioning how she thought it would be possible to raise a wild animal in her home.
"Darwin is my needy 'child,'" Nakhuda wrote, once again stressing she and her family may move somewhere that permits monkeys as pets. "Darwin is a Japanese macaque, and Japanese macaques share 93% human DNA...Right now, he doesn't need an expert but he needs his mother."
Some have questioned whether Darwin is, in fact, a Japanese macaque or a rhesus macaque — the latter of which is said to become aggressive as it matures and prone to carrying disease.
While some experts have said macaque monkeys in general make dangerous pets, Nakhuda insisted she and her family have never felt threatened.
"It is untrue to say that all monkeys are dangerous," Nakhuda wrote. "Japanese monkeys are very social animals, they work as waiters in restaurants in Japan..."
Nakhuda is due in court on Thursday to continue her fight for the return of Darwin.