Ikea monkey to get new enclosure at Toronto-area sanctuary

Darwin is a "typical teenager now" and he is getting a new enclosure to share with two new roommates just a few years after being spotted in a stylish coat at a retail store.

Darwin now 'typical teenager' years after being spotted in stylish coat at retail store

Darwin the monkey has not had much luck finding a roommate at his new home but two potential friends are on the way.

On the eve of the Ikea monkey's third anniversary at a sanctuary, workers are building enclosures for two potential roommates.

Darwin has been living northeast of Toronto at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary since Dec. 9, 2012, when a court placed him there after he was found wandering outside a Toronto Ikea store wearing a shearling coat.

Daina Liepa, a board member with the sanctuary, said two new Rhesus macaque monkeys will be arriving in January after being in a transplant research lab at a Canadian university for the past three years.

She said the monkeys have known nothing but the inside of a laboratory and will take their first steps outside when they arrive at Story Book.

Liepa said Darwin has been alone in his enclosure since arriving because he wasn't a good match to be paired with two more dominant female macaques.

But new monkeys Cody and Pugsley are younger males that should fit well with Darwin's increasing energy levels, she said.

"He's a typical teenager now, very loud and swinging and running and jumping all the time," Liepa said.

The board had trouble raising money to buy the land and the monkeys from the couple who wanted out after a divorce.

But two new owners, who wish to remain anonymous, came forward to buy the sanctuary last summer.

Liepa said the new enclosures are only temporary as the sanctuary is in the final stages of designing a brand new facility made of shipping containers — pieced together like Lego blocks — they hope to begin in the spring if fundraising efforts go well.

Liepa said the new facility will be built to house 40 monkeys with the ability to expand further to hold upwards of 100 monkeys, all of which are former pets, laboratory animals and those that are part of Ontario's underground exotic pet trade.