For anyone looking for good news in 2020, here’s some in the form of a tiny monkey and a blast from the past — it’s been eight years since Darwin the Japanese macaque wandered into an Ontario IKEA wearing a stylish shearling coat, and according to the animal sanctuary he lives at now, he’s doing better than ever.
Darwin hit headlines on Dec 9, 2012, when he was spotted wandering an IKEA dressed in a miniature, fitted coat and a diaper. Dubbed “stylish but illegal” by the Globe and Mail, he was surrendered over to Toronto Animal Services by his owner.
While the image of a tiny monkey dressed better than the average Canadian was humorous, Darwin was a victim of the exotic animal trade, taken from his mother before he learned key skills for how to be a monkey.
However, he’s overcoming those hurdles.
Darwin lives at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, where he has “grown up to be a handsome young monkey,” according to a post on the organization’s Facebook marking the anniversary of his IKEA jaunt.
“Darwin has adjusted to sanctuary life by being surrounded by other macaques who have taught him appropriate monkey behaviours such as grooming and learning that he isn’t necessarily first in line to get treats and meals,” the post states.
The sanctuary, which houses 26 primates who have been rescued from difficult situations, has a list of their residents on their website which describes their individual stories further.
According to Darwin’s description, he was a wreck when he arrived at the sanctuary, as he was used to constant attention from humans, and had to be separated from the other monkeys until he got used to his new home.
“Since his arrival Darwin has grown in strides – learning to be far more monkey than human,” the description reads. “He is grooming Sweet Pea, and calls to Julien and Lexy – mimicking their vocalizations and learning how to speak macaque.”
While Darwin no longer has an enviable wardrobe, he does have a favourite toy: a Curious George doll.
According to the website, he loves the doll, “whom he takes to his pool to give a bath, and grooms him and tries to get him to drink.
“He has grown in size and confidence as well, and was slowly transitioned towards having multiple caregivers who he can trust and love as his ‘troop,’ as he had no real monkey mother to show him the ropes.”
On Wednesday, the “IKEA monkey” briefly took over the internet again as countless users shared posts marking the anniversary of this monkey’s striking day out on the town in 2012.
But although he brought joy to the world then, it seems he’s much happier now. Proof that at least one thing is going well in 2020.