NORTH DURHAM: A judge ruled on Friday, Feb. 1, that Darwin, the so-called Ikea monkey, will remain at a Sunderland primate sanctuary until a custody trial later this year.
Darwin has been at the centre of a custody battle between owner Yasmin Nakhuda and Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland that has garnered international attention since the primate was nabbed by Toronto Animal Services in December, when he was found in a Toronto-area Ikea dressed in a shearling coat, after escaping from his owner's car.
In making his decision to have Darwin remain at Story Book until a custody trial can begin in the spring, Judge Michael Brown reminded the court that this is not a custody case regarding a child, but a matter dealing with personal property, as he denied Ms. Nakhuda's request to be reunited with Darwin prior to the trial.
"It must be remembered that Darwin is not a human being. The custody rules regarding children do not apply," said the judge.
Judge Brown also denied a similar bid put forth by Ms. Nakuda in December. In making his decision on the matter, Judge Brown also cited credibility issues with Ms. Nakuda, but did not elaborate on the subject.
"I do not believe that any irreparable harm will occur to the plaintiff and her bond with Darwin or Darwin himself, so long as an early trial date can be set," said Judge Brown.
When Ms. Nakuda left the Oshawa courthouse later in the day, she had few words for the scores of media present for the decision.
"You've just learned that loving is not enough to win a motion," she said outside the courthouse. "I will keep loving him. I don't know about fighting but I will keep loving him."
Sherri Delaney, the president of Story Book, told assembled media members that she was "relieved" with the judge's decision.
"At least we know that we'll have him until May. We'll see what happens in trial," said Ms. Delaney.
Ms. Delaney added that Darwin is "doing very well" and "thriving" at the sanctuary.