On December 9th, 2012, a rhesus monkey named Darwin broke out of his crate, got out of the car he had been left in and wandered around an Ikea parking lot. The monkey, sporting a sherling coat and a diaper was eventually surrounded by customers, who lured it inside to protect it from cars. Toronto Animal Services arrived and retrieved the monkey and held it until it could be brought to Story Book Farms Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario. The owners of the monkey were fined 240.00. In the end, all of the Internet had a good laugh, a fantastic meme was created and an illegal monkey was given a new home where he won’t be subjected to diapers and crates.
So why when the rest of the world is having a chuckle and preparing their best Ikea monkey jokes was I reading the story in horror? Well my problem is in the details. I don’t judge any of you, as far as a joke goes all the opportunity for hilarity is there. You have Ikea which is already the weirdest furniture store ever created; with its terrible disposable furniture, meatballs, allen keys, and funny names. You have monkeys, which are the funniest almost people of the animal kingdom, and oh goddamn it, its walking bipedally in an oversized russian sherling coat! If this isn’t what the internet was invented for, then it really is just a series of fucking tubes. The only thing this story needed to do now was to somehow fit into a cat meme and when that happened, the gods themselves smiled, Pluto grew big enough to become a planet again and Sirius radio finally became a thing.
I was pretty alone in being immediately pissed off, which I’ve come to terms with because if you’re like me and you’re smart and a total failure at life, being angry and self-righteous is my vegan margarine and spelt bread. My first issue was the fact that an animal had been left in a cold car while their owners shopped in Ikea. Ikea isn’t really a get-in-get-out kind of store and they were obviously there for some time if they gave their monkey enough time to escape a crate, unlock a car, and run amok without supervision. Also, a bunch of strangers coaxed a monkey into the North York Ikea, which I can’t imagine was that quick of a task, before the man realized he lost his monkey.
My second issue was, why aren’t people afraid of monkeys? Sure, he was wearing a coat and was a baby, but he’s still a wild animal. And did I mention his teeth look like this? Why was everyone so sure that when surrounded by strangers taking photographs of him and yelling for his attention, was he not going to attack them? How many celebrities hit paparazzi for creating that exact same environment every day? There’s no way we should assume a tiny monkey has better judgement than Britney circa 2007, and although it proved to be better tempered and more covered up than Britt Britt, we learned a powerful lesson that anything in a cute coat is just assumed tamed by Torontonians.
Even if the monkey was totally well behaved, animals can carry diseases, and rhesus monkeys can carry Herpes B a simian version of herpes that can be lethal to humans. And considering the monkey is illegal to own, no one should assume the owners were responsible enough to do a thorough background check on the health of their pet monkey. Because anyone dumb enough to 1. Own a monkey as a pet, 2. Dress it up in a coat and leave it in a car in the cold. 3. Smuggle an illegal pet into Ontario. May just be stupid enough to infect everyone in North York with weird monkey viruses. Am I the only person who has seen Outbreak?
My last and biggest issue with this whole story was that the Darwin’s original owners were fined 240.00. In Toronto, you can be fined 255.00 for not picking up dog poop. Okay let’s look at it this way, smuggling a dangerous, restricted animal was illegal, having a restricted animal is illegal, leaving it and therefore endangering it in a car is illegal, endangering everyone in the parking lot is illegal. What I’ve learned from the whole incident is that if you really want to do something illegal in Toronto and barely receive any punishment at all, you just need to make it hilarious. If it’s funny it’s apparently not worth punishing even if exotic animals can come from poachers, and can carry diseases that endanger wild life and human life. What does this say as a legal precedent for other illegal animal owners? Well if you got them, you better go out and get them a coat.