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Owner goes ape over seized monkey

A woman whose pet monkey was found wandering in an Ikea car park protested with 15 other people at a Toronto Animal Services office in an effort to get the animal back.

Yasmin Nakhuda claims the Japanese macaque named Darwin was taken from her illegally by animal control officials and moved to a sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario, where he now lives.

Ms Nakhuda is due in court today to try to get an interim order to have her pet returned to her. Her lawyer Ted Charney says he has been told the sanctuary plans to ask for the case to be adjourned.

"Nakhuda has no claim of ownership over a wild animal that is no longer in her possession," the sanctuary said in its response to her filing to have Darwin returned.

A filing from the sanctuary asks for an adjournment on several counts, including a request that it be given more time to gather evidence.

The sanctuary also claims that it now owns Darwin, arguing that unlike domestic animals, wild animals are owned by the person that possesses them and Ms Nakhuda voluntarily turned the monkey over to Toronto Animal Services.

The young monkey captured worldwide attention earlier this month when he was spotted wandering around the store car park lot in a little coat.

Ms Nakhuda, a property lawyer, said she was never given the chance to remedy the situation after being fined £148 for breaking the city's prohibited-animal by-law.

"I've spoken to a number of people in the legal community and they do agree that there is no statute allowing the city to take an animal away based on the circumstances," Ms Nakhuda said at the protest.

In court documents she says she, her husband and their two children would be willing to move to a city that allows monkeys in order to keep Darwin, whom they consider part of the family.

Ms Nakhuda said she hopes to have Darwin back by Christmas.

The primate sanctuary has said the monkey is doing well and the agency was prepared to fight any legal challenges for its return.

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