NEWS

Ikea Monkey To Remain In Sanctuary

09/09/2015 05:01 EDT | Updated 09/09/2015 05:59 EDT

SUNDERLAND, Ont. — The Ikea monkey doesn't have to worry about finding new digs now that new owners have bought the sanctuary and the property where he lives.

Darwin - who became famous in 2012 when he was found wandering outside a Toronto Ikea store wearing a shearling coat - has been living at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary since a court placed him there.

Darwin and 19 other monkeys faced eviction after the sanctuary's previous owner went through a divorce and decided to sell, according to Story Book board member Daina Liepa.

"This is our dream to stay here because moving the monkeys would be incredibly stressful on them," Liepa said.

The board had trouble raising money to buy the land since it went up for sale about a year ago. They feared they wouldn't be able to find Darwin and the other animals a new home.

Then, Liepa said, two generous benefactors came forward to buy the property and officially closed the deal in mid-July.

Liepa said the new owners want to remain anonymous, but the day-to-day operations of the sanctuary will remain with the board and its team of volunteers.

They have big plans to expand the sanctuary - potentially doubling its capacity for monkeys - and renovating the existing structures on the sprawling land northeast of Toronto.

Liepa said they also plan to make themselves heard in the community, raising awareness about the exotic pet trade in Canada.

"We feel strongly that people should be aware of what we're doing, who we are and what our intentions are and encourage education about primates," Liepa said.

The sanctuary has an agreement to bring in two more monkeys once they are done being used for research at an unnamed university.

"It's so easy for universities to euthanize them - it's much cheaper and easier - but we want to make it easier to keep them alive,'' she said.

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