12/13/2012 08:13 EST | Updated 02/11/2013 05:12 EST

What the Ikea Monkey Revealed About Animal Treatment in Canada

I am extremely proud to be Canadian this week. I am obviously a human, but I think I would be equally proud to be a non-human Canadian this week.

Let me start with the "IKEA monkey," whose proper name is Darwin. This poor juvenile rhesus macaque was found wandering through an IKEA parking lot in Toronto a few days ago, and he quickly became an international Internet sensation. In similar circumstances in recent memory, law enforcement agents have been known to shoot wayward animals, send them to zoos, or return them to their irresponsible human caretakers.

In this case, young Darwin happily found his way to Story Book Farm, a proper sanctuary for primates. His new home is an imperfect substitute for the wild where he really belongs, and Darwin will unfortunately have to grow up without his biological mother who must miss him a lot, but at least he will be surrounded by other monkeys and will never be forced to wear Halloween costumes or diapers for the amusement of humans.

Another great step for animals that took place in Canada this week was a 24-hour vigil to raise awareness about fur-bearing animals. LUSH cosmetics devoted one of their storefronts to be used for 24 hours by Fur-Bearer Defenders. For that period, an activist named Shannon Kornelsen put herself on display for shoppers while she was restrained in a leg-hold trap. She bravely went without food and water for that period and poignantly demonstrated the disappointment, pain, and confusion experienced by a trapped animal who is destined to become fur trim on a winter coat.

Finally, the new national not-for-profit organization Mercy For Animals Canada released footage from the first-ever Canadian undercover investigation of a factory farm that raises pigs. The investigation revealed cases of severe neglect and blatant cruelty, including workers slamming piglets against metal poles or concrete floors and leaving them to slowly suffer and die, piglets' testicles being removed and tails being sliced without benefit of pain relief, pregnant pigs restrained in tiny unclean metal cages that prevented them from turning or lying on their sides, and much more.

The footage went viral in Canada, leading to an exclusive expose on CTV's W5 and news stories on other major television networks, radio stations and newspapers. Greater awareness about the unsavory plight of animals on factory farms can only help guide consumers to make more informed and more compassionate decisions.

I sincerely hope Canadians keep their attention on animals in the weeks, months, and years to come. While animals may not hit the front page every day in our country, they continue to suffer by the millions every year. We live in a country that offers little legal protection for animals, and we need to work together to fix that by supporting animal protection groups with our wallets and our volunteer efforts. Meanwhile, we can each do our part by taking steps not to use animals in our daily lives -- not for our entertainment, our clothing, nor our food.

IKEA Monkey Memes