Science & Tech
Darwin the Ikea monkey starring in online computer game

Credits: QMI AGENCY

BRENDAN WEDLEY | QMI AGENCY

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — Darwin the Ikea monkey is the star of an online video game put together by a group of Ontario animators and programmers led by Barnabas Wornoff.

Wornoff, reached at his Toronto home Friday night, explained that when the story of the primate found in the Ikea parking lot went viral before Christmas, he thought it would be a perfect opportunity to do something fun and current.

The Keene, Ont., native contacted a friend and a former student from his animation class at Seneca College about designing a T-shirt. From there, the project grew to building a website with a video game.

“Basically a bunch of artists wanted to see what we could do in a short amount of time with something that we found heartwarming and fun to play with,” he said.

In the game, which can be played at www.ikeamonkeyshirt.com, players navigate Darwin to collect pieces to put together an Ikea shelf. Players try to avoid running Darwin into cars, shoppers and shopping carts.
Darwin can fling monkey poo to knock away pesky shoppers and shopping carts. Collecting bananas gives him extra lives.

Once Darwin gets all the parts to put together the wall shelf for his new cell at Story Book Farm Sanctuary, he does a dance and the game screen shows the completed wall shelf holding Darwin’s photos.

As of late Friday, the site had a little more than 7,500 hits.

“It’s pretty out of control,” he said. “It’s also pretty exciting to be on something that’s trending like this.”

A lot of the visitors to the website are in Budapest, Hungary and Spain, Wornoff said adding that they just sold their first T-shirt to a person in Hungary.

Toronto Animal Services confiscated the real-life Darwin, a Japanese macaque monkey, under the city’s exotic animal bylaw. He's being kept at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, west of Linday.

Darwin’s owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, is seeking a court order to regain custody of the monkey. The case is slated to resume Jan. 31.

Just as the real-life monkey’s saga continues, Darwin’s video game counterpart may have another adventure.

Nakhuda sent an e-mail to the team.

“She thought it would be a nicer game if we saw the monkey escaping from the jail and getting back to her mother,” Wornoff said. “So maybe there will be a sequel of the monkey escaping the jail.”

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