Claims of abusing Ikea monkey denied by owner

"Darwin" the ikea monkey with Yasmin Nakhuda



TORONTO - The owner of Darwin the Ikea monkey has dismissed claims she abused the primate, her lawyer said Sunday.

Ted Charney, who is representing Darwin's owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, said that the Story Book Farm Primary Sanctuary filed a "grossly exaggerated and twisted" statement of defence Thursday, alleging his client and her family strangled and beat the seven-month-old Japanese macaque with a wooden spoon.

"The claims being made in this defence are not supported in any of the evidence we know about," Charney said Sunday in a telephone interview.

"When Yasmin would hold Darwin by the neck to give him a bath to keep him above water, the defence calls that strangulation. What we have is a defendant who has extreme views about people owning primates and what the public considers normal training or handling of a pet, they consider abuse."

Darwin has been living at the Sunderland, ON animal sanctuary since shortly after he was discovered wandering at a North York Ikea parking lot on Dec. 9 wearing a shearling coat.

The primate was seized by Toronto Animal Services which sent Darwin to the sanctuary. There's a bylaw prohibiting people from owning such monkeys in Toronto.

Nakhuda, 43, has gone to court to get her pet back. A spokesman for Story Book Farm couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

In legal documents obtained by Charney, Story Book claims Nakhuda's husband and their two children -- ages 11 and 16 -- strangled the monkey and hit him with a wooden spoon.

There's also an allegation that Nakhuda paid $10,000 to an illegal exotic animal dealer, who taught her how to physically abuse the animal as a form of discipline.

Charney said the timing of the abuse accusations doesn't make sense when the case has been in the courts for weeks and Toronto Animal Services by-law officers have testified Darwin was healthy when they picked him up.

The sanctuary's intention, he alleged, is to discredit Nakhuda and pressure her to drop the case.

"I can't imagine why anyone would do that except to shock the public and intimidate the family into dropping the case. Unfortunately, there are no rules for preventing people from saying what they want, no matter how ridiculous."

Charney said he plans on filing a response to the sanctuary's defence statement this week. Nothing has been proven in court.

The case is expected to resume in Oshawa later this month.

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