IKEA Monkey’s Fame Not Enough To Boost Sanctuary’s Indiegogo Campaign

By Yasmin Soul 12/29/14 | www.samaritanmag.com

IKEA monkey Darwin opens Xmas gift at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary — photo from Facebook.
The infamous IKEA monkey who has been living at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary northeast of Toronto is being used to help raise $490,000 via crowdfunding site Indiegogo to move the primate rescue to a new 56-acre property. The campaign is called Darwin’s Dream, but in just over a month has only raised a fraction of the goal — less than $13,000. The end date is Dec. 31.

“Darwin IKEA Money needs a new home by spring 2015!” the headline reads, before explaining it won’t be the baby Japanese Macaque’s private estate for just him to roam and climb:

“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 at Story Book Farm. But we need your help! Become a Darwin's Dreamer today!” it states.

The online campaign offers different perks, depending on your financial donation. For example, $10 gets you a virtual kiss from Darwin via video and personal e-thank you note signed by Darwin; $50, a Darwin’s Dream T-shirt; $200 a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility; $250, an opportunity to feed the monkeys; $5,000, an eco-retreat for two opening weekend; $50,000 for a named forest enclosure for which you can design some of the play structures for the primates; and $100,000 for a land trust.

Darwin made international headlines in December 2012 when the little guy was found walking around a Toronto IKEA parking lot sporting a beige faux shearling coat and a diaper. Owner Yasmin Nakuda, a real estate lawyer, was inside the store shopping when Darwin escaped from her car.


Animal control captured Darwin and he was placed at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary because it is illegal in Toronto to keep a monkey as a pet. In a subsequent legal battle for Darwin’s return, Nakuda claimed she was tricked into signing the papers releasing him to the officers.

After Nakuda filed the civil suit against the sanctuary, an Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary Vallee ruled that Darwin is a wild animal and that Nakuda's ownership ended with his escape.

Darwin's current home, Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario, sits on 16 acres of land and is entirely volunteer run, according to the sanctuary. The rescue is looking to move to a larger property in Port Perry, Ont. by the spring of 2015 “due to a change in our family situation,” it says on the Indiegogo page, without elaborating.

"Our proposed new home has 56 acres of rolling hills with trees aplenty and ample space, with indoor and outdoor areas for all our residents. There are two houses onsite for staff as well as a finished area perfect for a vet clinic on site. There are also twenty additional monkeys already living on the property that will be given sanctuary and likely integrated into social groups."

The online campaign ends Dec. 31 at midnight (PT) and has raised $12,748, as of the morning of Dec. 29. According to Story Book’s web site, the half-a-mil would pay for the costs of the down payment, retrofitting enclosures, staffing costs and sustainable funding for the future. It explains that the bigger new home would make it possible for more monkeys to be rescued.

"There are thousands of monkeys in Canada that need a safe place to retire and be loved. This is in large part due to the underground trade in exotic animals as well as the biomedical laboratory industry, both of which can result in traumatic situations for the animals.

“A new larger property will allow Story Book to provide more monkeys a safe home as well as improve the environment of our current residents. It will also allow us to expand our education & advocacy programs in the surrounding communities, create a primate internship program and hire our first permanent staff to manage our expanded facility. We are also developing a business plan for the new site that will generate social enterprise revenue for the sanctuary, allowing us to be self-sustainable.”

More information can be found on the Indiegogo page, which includes a breakdown of the money in pie-chart form. Their Facebook page includes lots of photos and blurbs about each.

The founder of Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, Sherry Delaney, started rescuing monkeys 14 years ago in her backyard, a farm property in the Durham region.

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* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.