NORTH DURHAM: Darwin, ‘The IKEA Monkey’, has grown out of his sheepskin coat - as his current home has grown out of their tiny Sunderland location. Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary is seeking a new home, and has turned to crowdfunding to purchase it - with their ‘Darwin’s Dream’ IndieGoGo page.
The group hopes to purchase the former Northwood Exotic Animal Zoo in Seagrave, as the site will be able to provide larger living spaces and accommodate more rescues - as compared to their current Sunderland location.
The Story Book Farm organization rescues and shelters primates from the illegal exotic animal trade, giving their tales of neglect and abuse a ‘Story Book’ ending.
Darwin, an infant Japanese Macaque, was discovered wandering a Toronto IKEA parking lot in December of 2012.
After a lengthy court trial involving his former owner, Darwin was placed in the care of Story Book. Over the past months, Darwin has matured into a larger, more energetic, and rambunctious juvenile.
Story Book, with 22 primates in its care, is already operating at capacity. Founded in 2000, the tiny facility is divided into pens where hollering monkeys of all sizes swing on ropes and old fire hoses, and play with kids’ toys.
“We now have an exciting opportunity to acquire a new larger home with wide open spaces and forested enclosures for Darwin and the twenty-one other monkeys,” said Kim Meehan of Story Book Farm.
Most of the new pens have sliding doors that would allow the primates to slip into outdoor enclosures to frolic in the sunshine and fresh air. There are also two houses on site for staff, as well as a finished building - perfect for an on-site vet clinic. The new property has a steep evaluation price of almost one million dollars.
Story Book is entirely volunteer-run, and funded solely by private donations, with the occasional grant for specific projects.
“The new property will also allow us to expand our education and advocacy programs in the surrounding communities, create a primate internship program, and hire our first permanent staff to manage our expanded facility,” said Ms. Meehan. “We are also developing a business plan, allowing us to be self-sustainable.”
Far from just an animal sanctuary, Story Book is a group of over 30 volunteers’ mission to change the world, one primate at a time.
Readers can learn more about the crowdfunding campaign on-line at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/darwin-s-dream.
The web page states that $250,000 is needed for a down payment on the North Wood Zoo property, $100,000 is needed to upgrade primate enclosures and building structure, $100,000 is needed for the development of future sustainability programs, and that $40,000 will be put towards the hiring of full-time care staff for one year.
As of press-time, the Darwin’s Dream campaign has yet to reach its fundraising goals, but will continue to collect donations and offer rewards through their webpage until Jan. 24. Further updates are expected and will be published as soon as they become available.