Tag Archives: “Darwin IKEA Monkey”

Toronto’s Viral IKEA Monkey Story Continues – “Monkey Mom” Acquires More Primates

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mom and babyWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

“Monkey Mom,” (sometimes known as Yasmin Nakhuda) is apparently still on a quest for substitute children.  She just made a ruthlessly strategic move to deprive her own former pet Darwin of any possible companionship at his potential new home at the former Northwood Zoo, which is currently for sale. While Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary (his home)  campaigns for funds to allow them to relocate to Northwood (and take over responsibility for Northwood’s macaques), Ms. Nakhuda went and purchased the two suitable companions for Darwin from Northwoods, and took them home to add to her own personal “safari park” in Kawartha Lakes.  Surprise!

Quite apart from the fact that Northwoods shouldn’t be selling exotic animals to private collectors, I’m honestly baffled why Nakhuda, who has two (human) children, persists in becoming a wanna-be Jane Goodall by acquiring the two juvenile Japanese macaques.

Here’s the smug, self-congratulatory Facebook announcement:

primates dont make good pets

Supporters of Story Book Farm will recall that in 2013, Nakhuda sent a petition to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and Brock Township, signed by a group of 116 petitioners, seemingly as part of a plan to  revoke the charitable status of the sanctuary.  Naturally, this empty rhetoric fell on deaf ears,  since just about the only way to have your charitable status revoked is if the charity itself doesn’t comply with CRA’s regulations,  they fail to file their returns,  or they ask to be de-registered.   In addition to that, most of the claims made in this petition were inflammatory and dangerously speculative. Accusations were flung – accusations that can now be applied directly to Nakhuda herself.

Nakhuda’s 2013 letter tried to suggest that:

“Story Book’s primary agenda is not the rescue of unwanted or neglected animals but to build a private zoo or collection of primates and other exotic animals.”

Of course, she ignores the fact that her own monkey was acquired by Story Book after she lost him in parking lot (a pretty fearful situation for a baby monkey) and he had to be rescued. I’m guessing that Nakhuda, who does not claim to be operating a charitable sanctuary, doesn’t see the irony in purchasing these two primates for her own collection.

“Story Book did not have appropriately-educated volunteers, was unqualified to take care of primates.”

Ducks on Nakhuda's "sanctuary"

Ducks at Nakhuda’s “pet heaven”

This, despite the fact that Story Book has a varied combination of volunteers and a Board of Directors with animal, veterinary, and direct primate experience. To the best of our knowledge, Ms.Nakhuda has no apparent animal training or specialist knowledge of primates other than how to accessorize them with stylish clothing and diapers. We know from the Nakhuda v. Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary verdict and Nakhuda’s own description of Darwin’s behaviour that she went to great lengths to keep him contained and herself from being injured by him. We also question whether the misguided monkey mom has an established enrichment program for these macaques – experienced keepers spend many hours figuring out ways to stimulate primates, both mentally and physically. Instead, she stated that she thought of him as her “child,” – “Japanese macaques, they have 93 per cent human DNA. So, he would act like a little child, and therefore when I call him my son I’m not mental.” First of all, primates don’t have human DNA – the point of divergence from our MRCA (most recent common ancestor) occurred approximately 29 million years ago.  While they share approximately 93% of our nucleotide homology,  they do not precisely share our human DNA. So, that pretty much demolishes Nakhuda’s argument that Darwin can ever be a “son.”  Secondly, most people possessing common sense know that humans are not a direct substitute for a primate’s own co-horts. Instead of being taken to shopping malls, Darwin needed

Deceased alpaca on Nakhuda's "sanctuary"

Nakhuda’s “Pet heaven” was not so heavenly for this deceased alpaca

to be safe and living with other macaques, not left alone in cars – there was nothing in his biology that could prepare him for this kind of experience.

Nakhuda’s actions in acquiring these two primates appears to be an attempt to throw a literal monkey wrench into the plan to finally integrate Darwin with suitable conspecifics who are close to him in age, apparently with the assumption that this will force the return of Darwin to her after all this time.  However,  Darwin continues to be a healthy and vibrant monkey who enjoys the company of the baboons and macaques who live nearby him, along with his human caretakers.

~Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into the mirror, he sees a monkey~

Malcolm de Chazal

The point of divergence from the most recent common ancestor of Homo Sapiens (us) and Japanese Macaques occurred approximately 29 mya (million years ago) Courtesy of Timetree.org

The point of divergence from the most recent common ancestor of Homo Sapiens (us) and Japanese Macaques occurred approximately 29 mya (million years ago) Courtesy of Timetree.org

macaque giving the finger

 

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Darwin’s Dream – Passionate About Primate Protection

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darwintextWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photography © Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary

DarwinsdreamStory Book Farm is one of only two primate sanctuaries in Canada that can care for nonhuman primates who are rejected by their owners or are cast-offs from the biomedical trade. A primate sanctuary is not a zoo. Sanctuaries are dedicated to giving nonhuman primates and other exotic animals a high quality of life via enrichment but without unnecessary human interference.

Founded in 2000, the Sanctuary is of course most famous for caring for Darwin the “IKEA monkey” for the last two years, after Toronto animal services seized him from his owner, Yasmin Nakhuda. Nakhuda later sued the sanctuary to get him back, but her lawsuit ultimately failed. For approximately two years, while awaiting the trial outcome, the Sanctuary and its volunteers and supporters were subjected to a campaign of regular harassment via social media.

Start the Car – The IKEA Monkey Trial Gets Ugly

The sanctuary hopes to raise $490,000 online through its Darwin’s Dream crowdfunding campaign to relocate the primates in its care to the site of the former Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, on the western side of Lake Scugog. Northwood, for sale for nearly $1,000,000, is set on 22 hectares with treed enclosures, buildings for volunteers to reside as well as the opportunity for a vet clinic. Included is an existing population of about 20 primates, including two younger macaques who could form a family troop with Darwin.

Please consider a donation for the purchase of the Northwood Zoo and the continuing care of the primates – support #Darwinsdream Indiegogo campaign

Darwin Funding Breakdown

In addition to Darwin, Pockets Warhol is another famous resident. The adorable capuchin monkey is something of an art sensation in the animal world, using children’s paints to create abstract splashes reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s work.

High-profile stories of exotic or unusual pets either escaping or being set free by their owners are nothing new. And a high percentage of exotic animals die within the first year, assuming that they Story Book Farm 4survive their way to the consumer at all. Despite often having good intentions, many owners just don’t know how to provide quality care. There is a thriving exotic animal trade in Canada —involving everything from constrictors to tigers – the Tiger Paw “Odd and Unusual” auction currently held in Orangeville, features exotic farm animals, primates, and even zebras. Anyone willing to pay the price for these animals is free to take them away, no questions asked. Some of these animals will either die or be rejected by their new owners. Monkeys are less than ideal pets – monkeys that are cute in their infantile stages grow into highly intelligent wild adults who are physically strong and can be aggressive – they often outlive their owners as a result of having life spans that are longer than most traditional domesticated pets. Monkeys kept as private pets are usually forced to wear diapers for their entire lives, while the monkeys at Story Book live as naturalistically as possible

Story Book Volunteers and Board of Directors – a strong history of governance, animal welfare, volunteerism, and social justice.

There are only a patchwork of bylaws to deal with exotics ownership, since a cohesive exotic animal policy does not exist in Canada. Animal welfare groups and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies call for stronger provincial laws to limit or ban the import and sale of exotic species, believing that a ban on those practices is the ideal legal scenario right across the country – the only exceptions being zoos and sanctuaries. Darwin’s case has served to highlight the fact that he is not just a meme,  an IKEA monkey, but a macaque capable of living to his fullest potential in a more natural environment.  We need to educate others and create awareness of illegal pets who need to live their lives as non-human primates. Bravo to Story Book Farm and their volunteers!

 

 

Inherit The Monkey………

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Statue-justice-e1367776167417Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Today,  many supporters of Story Book Farm Primary Sanctuary were feeling about as nervous as a bunch of long-tailed monkeys in a room full of rocking chairs!  Today,  at 10am,  Justice Mary Vallee dismissed the case stipulating that Darwin would remain at Story Book.  While the case of Nakhuda v. Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary will not exactly fade away anytime soon,  at least the lives that were on hold while waiting for the trial and the verdict will now be freer to move forward.  And despite it being Friday the 13th,  the day turned out to be a very lucky one for Darwin the IKEA monkey.  For one thing,  he now won’t have to have his canine teeth removed.  He’ll also be free to socialize with other monkeys,  now that the risk of him being returned to Yasmin Nakhuda is gone.  Up until this point,  introducing him to other monkeys would be considered risky,  since he could potentially lose that friendship if he had to leave the sanctuary.

Now that he is completely free to be socialized with other Story Book monkeys, he can begin to experience the emotional development that would not have been available to him in a home environment.   While life in a sanctuary cannot possibly replicate the ideal conditions in nature,  he will now be able to live as much like a monkey as possible.

You can read Justice Vallee’s reasons for the judgment below:

However,  in the land of revenge and retribution where the mob rules,  the Truth is still buried under conspiracy theories of judicial, police,  and even animal control corruption.  Some time ago,  I read the following commentary  about hate messages, written by Paul Watson,  and thought how relevant it was to the Darwin case.  Story Book proprietor Sherri Delaney, her family, volunteers,  and supporters have experienced all manner of disparaging harassment,  which continues even as the verdict was announced.

There are, it seems to me, two sources of this conflict. One is just ideological differences – some people feel that everyone has the right to own a monkey,  while others maintain that monkeys are best left to their own devices in

The Scopes Monkey trial is perhaps best known today for serving as the inspiration for the play, Inherit the Wind, and the movie of the same title.

The Scopes Monkey trial is perhaps best known today for serving as the inspiration for the play, Inherit the Wind, and the movie of the same title.

their natural element. If you’ve read the recent exchanges between Story Book supporters and Nakhuda supporters, these differences become apparent.

A second source of conflict are those who have chosen regular harassment via social media as their chosen mechanism of activism. Threats to take Darwin back from the sanctuary by “alternative means”  and grossly offensive language have been hurled against Story Book supporters on a regular basis.   The result has been to raise the level of emotion and defensiveness for everyone.  Now that the trial is over,  we have to find ways to marginalize and ignore these elements.

Paul Watson is best known one of the most determined, most active and most effective defender of wildlife. For 35 years, Captain Watson was at the helm of the world’s most active marine non-profit organization – the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.   He has a way of dealing with hateful messages that everyone on both sides of the trial can learn from.

Paul Watson~On Dealing With Hate Messages

“Every day I receive a dozen or so nasty messages, most of them simply irrational hate messages, the usual and predictable rambling on about trivial inanities, tossing insults like they actually think such silliness is going to cause me trauma or something.

What they don’t understand is that I appreciate receiving their spiteful messages because I have always been of the opinion that the only people who are never criticized are people who do essentially nothing.

Activism invites criticism, ridicule, hate messages, and threats. Open your mouth and people will disagree with you. A few however feel compelled to dress up their disagreement with ad hominen attacks, insults and threats. Some people just cannot stand the fact that other people do not think the same way they do or believe in the same thing they do.

I have absolutely no emotional reaction to insults or hate messages. Insults from people I do not know are meaningless. In many cases they are simply amusing.

Facebook and other social network site have given rise to the craven types who lash out from the safety of obscurity. They feel they can say whatever they like to whomever they like because no one can see them (well, except for the NSA).

021016-627-xVery few of these people would have the courage to make such insults to your face. Their motivation is their cowardice. All trolls are cowards, that IS their one defining characteristic.

And as cowards they are hardly deserving of respect or even recognition.

Each day I delete a few silly comments and often as not ban a few haters. In fact I appreciate their verbal attacks as a means to identify them so that I can toss them into the trash heap of banned individuals.

I never respond to them because they are not worth responding to.

Now if they don’t bother me you might ask than why am I even bothering to write about this.

The reason is this. I hear from many people, especially younger people about how hurtful these comments can be and how they are bullied by people attacking them on their facebook pages or in comments about articles they write or messages they post.

I do tell people to simply ignore such things but despite this many people feel personally victimized.

So my advice to people in this situation is to realize that if you ever wish to achieve anything in life you must understand that whatever you do, there will be people who disagree with you and some of these people have so little personal integrity that they will respond in a manner they believe will be intentionally hurtful.

You should instead view such attacks as a validation that you have said something meaningful. Nothing makes these hate posters (often called trolls) more angry than the realization that someone is articulating a belief that they disagree with.

And nothing frustrates them more than when they are ignored. They want to see your pain. They want to know that they poked you and it hurt. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

Block them, delete them and ignore them.

If they insult you for your physical appearance, ignore them. If they accuse you of being stupid, ignore them. If they insult others you respect and love, ignore them.

They are like mosquitos buzzing in your ear. Annoying yes, but toss a mosquito net over your tent and suddenly that irritating buzz has gone away.

I receive thousands of insults every year. They are as meaningless as bug splatter on your windshield. With your car you turn on your windshield washer and with the internet you click on the ban option and delete button.

Darwin at Story Book

Darwin at Story Book

I have known very attractive people who have allowed them self to be hurt by unknown persons calling them ugly. The true ugliness lies inside of the mind hurtling the insults. I have known very intelligent people who have been hurt by unknown persons calling them stupid or ignorant. True stupidity and ignorance lies in the motivation of the trolls seeking to hurt them.

We are who we are, we are not here in this life to fit into the definition of what is acceptable by other people.

People I have known have said to me, “but they are lying about me, what will other people think?

Yes, people lie about other people and this may or may not influence how other people think. The point is it does not matter. The internet is full of lies. Anyone who has a Wikipedia page about them knows that. The media is full of lies as anyone who has had a story written about them knows quite well.

It simply does not matter.

What does matter is that you have faith in yourself and those you know, love and respect personally. What an unknown person says about you is simply of no consequence and if people you know are gossiping about you, well accept it, people like to gossip.

Someone told me, “but people are talking about me.”

As Oscar Wilde once remarked, “the only thing worst than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Let them talk, it validates your existence. They are talking about you because they 1. Admire you. 2. Respect you. 3. Envy you. 5. They are intimidated by you. 6. They irrationally hate you. Or 7. They are simply nuts. (the nut barrel is certainly full on facebook.)

I am in a special category. I have entire facebook pages, websites and you tube sites dedicated to insulting and attacking me. People are actually paid by the Institute of Cetacean Research to insult me online. Personally I feel kind of flattered and amused. They put so much energy into it that I have not had the heart to tell them I simply find their obsession kind of silly. If they actually believe they are having an emotional impact on me, well maybe it’s best to let them continue to believe that, it gives them an outlet for their need to insult and hate and I the case of the professional haters employed by the ICR, I guess it provides jobs to the skillfully challenged.

Three monkeysBut the bottom line here is this: Never give any credibility to anything said about you or to you on the internet. People you do not know have zero credibility. They are like poison ivy or poison oak. If you brush up against them it will affect you but if you stay way the problem never develops.

I know it can be difficult if you are young and have self-doubts or if you are struggling with issues like self esteem. But remember, the only person you need to impress is yourself. If Albert Einstein had listened to his critics he would never have discovered relativity. Even his teachers told him he had no aptitude for mathematics. For most of his entire adult life Nelson Mandela was called a violent terrorist, now he is an icon of peace. He refused to let the opinions of others change his heart or mind.

Hurtful, insulting and vicious things were said to Martin Luther King yet he let them slide away like water off a duck’s back. He was above that and so should we all be above that.

No one controls your destiny but yourself. When you focus your eyes on where you wish to go and follow the path outlined by the passion of your heart you can simply steer around any obstacles in your path.

The internet especially Facebook is a minefield of hate. Step around the mines and pursue your dreams and your goals.”

IKEA Monkey Trial: A War Of Words With Casualties Mounting

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Three monkeys

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The Darwin monkey trial is now over (pending a decision from Justice Mary Vallee).   In this blog post,  I’m not going to re-hash issues that have been more than adequately covered by the media;  for some time I’ve wanted to expand upon a previous blog post about the behind-the-scenes train wreck that has raged for months between former owner Yasmin Nakhuda supporters and Story Book supporters.  The “Darling Darwin Monkey” Facebook page has been a place where Ms. Nakhuda’s supporters have threatened to arrest everyone on earth who has responded negatively to their posts.  It’s a place where this group has proclaimed that no one takes them seriously and if you disagree with them, they will threaten to report you to the Secret Service AND the fashion police.  It’s a place where rainbows and unicorn farts are taken as a sign that Darwin will be returned to the plaintiff, rather than by the legal precedent of case law.  And lastly, if you decide to visit this magical Facebook page, be prepared for accusations of physical battery should you endeavour to explain the temperance movement’s expression “the right to swing your arm ends when it hits my face,” (generally credited to Oliver Wendell Holmes).  Those “live free or die” property fanatics will resist any authority that attempts to deny them their perceived right to be a monkey-mom.

423175_153779678103697_2123543659_nOftentimes it is difficult to believe that all that has transpired is over the possessory interest in an illegal Toronto monkey.  During examination, Sherri Delaney, operator of Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary (the defendant) discussed the harassment and threats she and the volunteers received via the supporters and followers of Yasmin Nakhuda’s Facebook page.  The phone calls and internet based threats to kill Ms. Delaney and burn down or otherwise destroy the sanctuary came to the forefront of her testimony.  Someone threatened to bring a “piece” to the first day of court and someone else took pics of supporters inside the courthouse and posted them on the internet.  As a direct result of these behaviours, three people were barred from attending the ongoing custody trial, despite the plaintiff asserting that these individuals had done nothing objectionable.

Story Book Farm supporters have always been compliant with regard to courtroom behaviour, but this courtesy has not always been similarly granted to us by some of the supporters for the plaintiff.  Additionally, people who say it’s their automatic constitutional right to be in court have probably been paying a little too much attention to the arguments put forth by property rights enthusiasts in the US who have flocked to support across-the-board monkey ownership in Canada.  When we come to court we have an expectation that we will be safe and our privacy respected.  When people publish photos taken in a courthouse then we certainly feel that our rights have not been respected and our privacy invaded.  You must have respect for the court and all its participants, that includes refraining from publishing or taking pictures inside the courthouse, which absolutely did happen on May31st and it included Ms. Delaney as well as several of her supporters.

Let me paint faces on some of Nakhuda’s supporters who caused this vitriol – these are people who make shit up and maliciously repeat false information that has bedarwin, monkey mom yasmin nakhudaen disproven in court or is just plan wrong.  Please read comments and accusations made to the supporters in the gallery below.  Fake profiles were used to commit character assassination with impunity.  Hiding behind one such fake profile, Nakhuda supporters uploaded bestiality photos on the sanctuary supporters’ Facebook page.  Others made vindictive accusations designed to bully and undermine the sanctuary.  Other times people supporting the return of Darwin from the sanctuary handed out photocopies criticizing animal advocates to reporters on the court steps. Virtually without fail, the comments on their page and elsewhere on the internet descend into virulency; to the casual reader, lies and truth are difficult to separate.  These are issues that journalists covering the Darwin story haven’t touched upon and were not privy to.

The tension between the two polarized groups was seen in the trial as well,  which is not about who can better care for Darwin, but who rightfully owns him.  At the core of the trial are the issues of whether Darwin is a wild or domestic animal and whether Ms. Nakhuda knowingly surrendered him to Toronto Animal Services.  While Kevin Toyne was considerate and polite in his examinations,  without raising his voice,  Ted Charney addressed Sherri Delaney with disdain,  in a manner that I considered to be rude and presumptive.  Of course some of the DDM supporters take a cue from this and somehow arrive at the conclusion that it’s acceptable behaviour to insult and threaten to pull people’s hair in court.

Plaintiff counsel Charney has maintained that Darwin is not a wild animal as he is wearing a coat and diaper.  Charney’s co-counsel said that Nakhuda did sign a form at animal services surrendering her ownership of Darwin, but the bylaw officers didn’t clearly explain its purpose and she thought she was surrendering the monkey just so they could perform public health tests. It seems incredulous that a real-estate lawyer did not understand that the surrender form she signed was a conveyance of property, which is what Darwin is in this trial – property or chattel.  If she did not understand the context of a “surrender” form, why also did the plaintiff ask to see Darwin at Toronto Animal Services, “one last time?”

In his closing arguments, lawyer for the sanctuary Kevin Toyne stwild versus domestic animals - legal definitionressed that Darwin is a wild animal and, under a doctrine called ferae naturae, can only be owned by the person who possesses him at the time. “The second Darwin got out of the car, Ms. Nakhuda no longer owned him,” he said. Because of the unusual nature of the case, Toyne relied in part on century-old case law, in particular a case of a fox that wandered off its owner’s property and was shot dead by a neighbour. The court determined that the owner lost title to the animal when it left his property,  as Darwin left Nakhuda’s property when he escaped at IKEA. But like “Angry Baby” from the Simpsons,  some of Nakhuda’s supporters whined that Darwin had been stolen, despite being sent to Story Book by Toronto Animal Services,  and being assigned by Justice Brown to stay there until conclusion of the trial.  You need an Allen key (that’s an IKEA joke) to navigate through their “logic.”

Mr. Toyne also pointed out discrepancies in her stories of how she acquired the monkey. Initially, she called Darwin a “gift,” before acknowledging that she paid $5,000 (deep discounted from the original $10,000) to buy him from a mysterious Montreal exotic animal seller. She originally claimed she was looking for a hyacinthe macaw, but was quoted on the internet elsewhere as being enthralled with Japanese macaques after seeing the now infamous  Japanese monkey waiter video.

But who would spend even $5,000  on a pet without a health guarantee and a receipt? Apparently there were no health or vaccination records, and despite this and Darwin’s propensity for nipping and biting, he was still taken “everywhere” including a Quiznos restaurant. In my opinion, these actions, or lack of them, show disregard for the health and safety, not only of Darwin, but of anyone around him.

A recent HuffPo article by PeTA’s Ingrid Newkirk reveals that cyberbullying can result in tragic consequences.  The sanctuary supporters and volunteers deserve support, not cyberbully spite.  I have no problem debating facts, but how to deal with people who respond to facts with personal insults and libel?

If you can’t wait for the South Park episode, read on.  Be advised that some of these posts contain objectionable or even outrageously offensive content. Shit gets real here:

yasmin and sam drawing

Keepin’ It Classy – The IKEA Monkey Battle Continues…..

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toronto banner

Written by Heather Clemenceau

The ÏKEA Munkë is soooo Dec. 2012.  Despite this,  the meme lives on,  as do the challenges for Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary and their volunteers,  who must endure a seemingly endless poo-flinging from their opposition,  not only on Facebook but sprinkled liberally elsewhere on the internet.

In my first blog on Darwin,  I acknowledged feeling a certain empathy for the former owner when he escaped at the North York IKEA and was seized by Toronto Animal Services in December 2012.  In the last few months my sympathy has waned considerably as a direct result of the behaviour of some of her supporters.  I’m quite sure some of them have been working full-time trying to dredge up emails, messages, and texts that they believe will incriminate the sanctuary and Sherri Delaney, the owner/operator of Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary.  Their accusations have become so outlandish and oppressive that reasonable people can only reject them outright. We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.

threeweekold-japanese-macaque-in-scottish-wildlife-park.jpegToday, I’m picking through a petition sent to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and Brock Township by a group of 116 petitioners,  seemingly as part of a plan to  revoke the charitable status of the sanctuary.  Too bad this empty rhetoric will fall on deaf ears,  since just about the only way to have your charitable status revoked is if the charity itself doesn’t comply with CRA’s regulations,  they fail to file their returns,  or they ask to be de-registered.   In addition to that,  many of the claims made in this petition are dangerously speculative and will not be of interest to any of the parties petitioned.  You can read the original on Scribd,  or here in PDF format,  in case the original suddenly goes “poof” in the night.  So…. point by message point,  here’s my response to the accusations against Story Book…..

Petition:

“As the Sanctuary had not been granted a licence to operate, the Sanctuary ought not to have accepted new residents until the finalization of its licensing. The adoption of the Japanese baby macaque, Darwin was premature and inappropriate in the circumstances.”

Despite this group’s best efforts, the sanctuary does have a license, but it’s important to note that a license was not required until recently.  And they’ve also been approved by the OSPCA and the Fire Department.  And yes, perhaps their acquisition was premature, because they’re not psychics and had no idea Ms. Nakhuda was going to lose Darwin at IKEA in December 2012.  Next time a private citizen acquires an illegal monkey in Toronto,  perhaps they should consider providing appropriate notice of their intent to take a day trip where he/she might get loose, so that all sanctuaries in North America are prepped and at the ready to accommodate stylishly-attired occupants.

Petition:

“On Tuesday, December 18, 2012, Ms. Delaney, verbally confirmed to a member of the public that all her staff was registered with Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (“OAVT”). Since then, it was confirmed with OAVT that the members were not registered with OAVT. We are hoping that OAVT will initiate their own investigation in relation to licences/registrations that Sherri Delaney reported they hold.  Ms. Delaney’s misrepresentation of her qualifications and that of her volunteers is unethical and unbecoming of an owner of an organization mandated to act in the best interests of the community.”

I have no idea what the qualifications are for many of the volunteers,  but I’ve been told that some of them are quite specialized in either monkeys or vet tech.  But you know,  I just can’t attach much merit to a claim that someone “verbally confirmed something to a member of the public.”  It appears that this isn’t verifiable in any way – is that the standard of evidence these days?  Reminds me of that old REO Speedwagon song – “heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another……”  But since the educational and experiential qualifications of the volunteers at Story Book are called into question,  let me ask what qualifications are possessed by the 116 petitioners?  How about a little quid pro quo?  What special skill set do they possess that allows them to make these determinations?  I suspect more than a few might be real-estate agents or closely associated with that field, which begs the question, what do they know about monkeys or veterinary care, or even running a sanctuary?  How many of these 116 people have been to the sanctuary?  How many have been to ANY sanctuary?  A woman who lives in El Salvador signed the petition – what are her qualifications?  And when did Rhonda from Arkansas visit the sanctuary?

Petition:

“Toronto Animal Services confirmed in its official statement to the media that though the baby monkey was not happy, it was healthy. Public opinion was that the monkey was well dressed and did not show any indication that it was abused.”

All Toronto’s stray monkeys wear faux-shearling coats.  God forbid we have unstylish monkeys roaming the streets. Anna Wintour would be proud!

Petition:

“Tests performed on Darwin also confirmed that he was in good health. We are advised that the repeated requests for the return of Darwin to its owner, who guaranteed the animal would be relocated to another city where there was no macaque2prohibition of owning exotic animals, were refused without just cause. Despite Ms. Delaney’s admission that where a baby monkey has imprinted on a human and there is a bond between the two, any separation may create significant trauma to the primate, she refused to do so. When pressured to grant access, Ms. Delaney imposed such stringent and absurd access terms on the owner and the primate that the owner turned down the visitation rights afraid that exercising access in compliance with those terms would be psychologically damaging on the baby macaque.”

Okay, let’s be honest –  I’m sure if people had not been threatening the sanctuary and driving by taking photos which included the operator’s PRIVATE RESIDENCE, posting them on the internet,  the terms would not have been so stringent.  How ironic that the group are now citing imprinting and bonding as concerns;  if they were truly concerned,  the baby Darwin would not have been purchased,  thus separating him from his  mother who would have still been nursing him.  It’s anthropomorphization plain and simple, to presume that humans are an apt replacement for a baby monkey’s own mother.

Petition:

“A copy of the proposed terms of access offered by Ms. Delaney through her counsel is enclosed herein as appendix “B”. For your kind information, the owner of the macaque is a female professional, a mother of two teenagers, with no criminal record. Meanwhile there is admission by Ms. Sherri Delaney that at the time she adopted Pockets Warhol, a resident primate from its consenting owner, Ms. Delaney allowed Pockets’ owner not only to enter the cage of the primate but to be there for the entire day for four consecutive days from 08:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. In a You Tube posted by the Sanctuary as recently as September 5, 2012, Ms. Delaney confirmed that the presence of Pockets’ owner facilitated the transfer and eased any stress caused to the animal during the transfer and happens to be one of the “best stories” of the Sanctuary. Seethe following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp7v_gwMvVw&feature=endscreen&NR=1 

I’m going to assume that Pockets former owner probably did not set up a Facebook page and facilitate,  even  unknowingly,  adherents to harass others and threaten to “liberate” all the primates at the sanctuary by any means.  The former owner of Pockets probably didn’t possess a group of hangers-on who drove by the sanctuary and took pictures,  or called their donors and sponsors.  Nor did anyone connected with Pocket’s former owner refer to the Sanctuary as a SCUM-Tuary or SCAM-tuary.  Yes,  it’s all very clear to me now why the two former owners were treated so differently during the transition period.

Petition:

“It is the petitioners humble submission that Ms. Delaney is guilty of cruelty to Darwin, the baby macaque by purposefully attempting to sever a healthy bond between the owner and her primate, or, in the alternative, the Sanctuary was not protecting Darwin from abuse or fear as per its own mandate but merely imposing its own judgement of private primate ownership on the animal and its owner.”

I realize it was not deliberate, but losing Darwin at IKEA was the ultimate act of separation, is it not?  It therefore seems hypocritical (not to mention wrong) to accuse the sanctuary of cruelty when Darwin was roaming the parking lot frightened and confused.  I’m sure he was far more frightened in the parking lot then he ever was upon seeing new surroundings, or the blue latex gloves that so terrify Ms. Nakhuda’s supporters.

Petition:

“The Sanctuary claims that animals which are taken by the Sanctuary are allowed to live a life closer to the natural habitat they were taken from. There is little or no evidence of the residents of the Sanctuary being provided with such closer return to their natural habitat. Information received from visitors of the Sanctuary confirms that all the animals are caged in small cages, mostly alone with little or no social interaction. The Sanctuary refuses access or use of cameras in order to prevent the uncovering of further information regarding the standard of care of its residents.”

Already Darwin has grown a thicker coat consistent with that of wild Japanese macaques, who spend part of the year in a cold climate.  And you can’t get much closer to “natural” than by ditching your diaper and leash.  Are we to believe that the petitioners have somehow located and interviewed visitors to the sanctuary,  and if so,  that’s kinda spooky to me,  along the lines of delivering petitions to people’s private homes in the evening and refusing to identify yourself in the process.  There are several videos that I’m aware of on Youtube,  taken by people who visited the premises,  along with still photography,  so it seems unlikely that they don’t allow cameras,  but perhaps not for people  suing or harassing them.  But surely this group does not expect there to be CCTV that is beamed directly into their televisions 24/7?

Petition:

“Pictures that were posted on the Sanctuary’s website prior to the Sanctuary taking possession of Darwin and which were removed immediately when the Sanctuary took possession of the baby macaque disclosed that (1) the size of the cages, holding cells or other enclosures where some of the animals were kept was nothing close to a natural environment, (2) existence of filth, decay and lack of maintenance; and (3) that the residents at the Sanctuary did not enjoy the attention and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcaring that the Sanctuary now displays or professes they receive. We are attaching herewith pictures that were removed by the Sanctuary showing the existence of rusty bars and restrictive fencing holding suffering and/or unhealthy and/or unhappy primates as appendix “C”, and “D”. There is also a picture of Darwin taken by the media which poses concern as it shows what appears to be an electrical cord within the reach of the baby macaque. See Appendix “E”. The Sanctuary’s mission statement as published on its web site is to heal and save animals from abuse and fear. See attached a copy of the Home Page of the Sanctuary attached herein as appendix“A”. It is our humble position that at the time the Sanctuary took over Darwin the baby monkey, there was no evidence of any abuse or neglect by its owner.”

I hate repeating myself,  but again,  Darwin was LOST in a parking lot!  That’s a pretty fearful situation for a baby monkey.  But what does the Story Book mission statement have to do with the method by which Darwin came to them?  By the group’s own admission,  Pocket’s previous owner voluntarily surrendered him.  Maybe Pockets experienced no abuse or neglect whatsoever.  If the sanctuary only admits animals that by strict definition have been abused or seized for abuse, where should Pockets or any other monkey who doesn’t fall into that category have gone?  It seems someone is taking the mission statement a bit too literally.  And what is “restrictive fencing?”  Is that the kind of fencing that keeps a monkey on the premises rather than wandering around in a parking lot?  If so,  I’m down for that.  

Petition:

“In fact, there is concern of abuse as there have been admissions of use of date rape drugs on the residents to control them.”

I can’t imagine a lawyer sanctioning any such statement.  What proof does this group have?   The date on this petition is January 2, 2012,  curiously enough,  several months before he was even born.  In any case,  this accusation never came up in court either – do you suppose it’s because there is no actual evidence?  Will people in this group just make shit up as they go along?  This is,  without doubt,  one of the most libelous slurs made against anyone associated with the Sanctuary.  And again,  not something either Brock Township nor the CRA would know anything about,  although I would imagine they must look on such claims with as much skepticism as we all do.    Lawyers are required to enforce the rule of law and protect the public, and the public is not served by any of the wild accusations made herewith.

Petition:

“There is also proof that abusive and intrusive surgical procedure such as castration has been used on a primate who the Sanctuary took over to “protect and save from fear and abuse” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttdzHl_1b50 (Julien’s Big Day is a video recording of the publicized castration of a resident male monkey).(5) The Sanctuary’s mission is to educate people. Yet it appears that information imparted to the public is generally biased and used to create a fear of monkeys. Primatologists and other experts can confirm that with appropriate training and care, monkeys can be controlled and become good pets and can make contributions to humans. Boston College for e.g., trains monkeys to assist disabled persons and the program has been successful:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGdHjSyry-A.In Japan, Japanese Snow Macaques have received labour law protection to work as waiters in a restaurant – a place where food is served and the monkey servers interact with strangers:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeSQ5Rv7eH8.

So, the removal of the canine teeth (which Nakhuda admitted to considering) is OK,  but neutering a monkey is not?  Does the group not realize that this same procedure is provided by veterinarians for dogs, cats, and other species of animals?  The procedure, as published on Youtube, is educational and displays proper veterinary protocols, including the use of the much-maligned blue surgical gloves, which are a source of great consternation to the blue glove phobics in Ms. Nakuda’s camp.  I’ve often wondered what type of  pet owner might want to purchase Neuticals®,  now I have a pretty good idea who they are!  While it’s true that monkeys have been trained to serve disabled people,  they have had their canines and sometimes the last digits on their fingers removed to avoid them biting and scratching the very disabled persons they are helping.  We can’t say that we perform either of those  procedures on therapy or guide dogs either.  And I can’t imagine what kind of primatologist would come out and state that monkeys can make good pets – Dr. Jane Goodall certainly does not.

Petition:

“The Sanctuary advises that monkeys are violent and kill people and yet statistics received from US where there is a large population of primate owners show that the incidents of violence are fewand there were no cases of death reported in a period of 10 years. Attached herewith are pertinent statistical and informative reports regarding ownership of primates and frequency of bites as appendix “F1”, “F2”, “F3” and “F4”.(7) The Sanctuary has used factual medical information in a prejudicial way without cause to create fear of monkeys in humans. The petitioners are prepared to submit evidence that primates are not a threat to public safety and in fact prove statistically to be safer than your common pet dog or cat.”

Sometimes monkeys do kill people.  More likely is the possibility that they will hurt someone, which they are more than capable of doing once they reach sexual maturity.  We know that Darwin was biting a child and an adult,  as this was confirmed in court.  And yes, dogs and cats cause more damage relative to monkeys, because they exist in the population by orders of magnitude over monkeys.  There are well over 100 million dogs and cats in Canada, while privately owned monkeys in Canada would likely number in the low thousands.  So it makes perfect sense statistically to state that more people are bitten by dogs than monkeys in Canada, because there are MORE of them.

Petition:

“Additionally they do not carry diseases that are transferable to humans. According to the US health reports (US research reports here are being used as in US there are over 15,000.00 private primate owners), there has never been a case of blue gloves in actionrabies infection in a nonhuman primate that was euthanized or quarantined after a bite incident in the US. Nonhuman primates are not carriers of the rabies virus nor has a pet primate ever transferred ANY disease to a human. The rare cases of disease transmission from a primate were acquired from research facilities where primates are imported directly from the wild. They are not captive bred primates. In addition, research facilities inject diseases into these primates for the purposes of research. Pet primates of today are born in captivity and do not harbor diseases. Whilst it is true that monkeys may carry herpes which is fatal to humans, such transmission is very difficult and there is no statistical evidence to support any death toll to make this fact a fear factor.”

First sentence of the above is patently incorrect. I’ve covered zoonotic diseases in a previous blog post about Darwin and monkeys, but further reading is available here.  Rabies transmission to humans is a relatively rare occurrence in Canada,  so it’s practically pointless to claim that monkeys don’t transmit rabies to humans – also because there are so few of them in Canada in the first place.  But again, why are the authors of this document discussing rabies in monkeys with the department of the Canadian government which governs taxes and unemployment insurance?  Methinks they have lost sight of their audience yet again.

Petition:

“Please see report enclosed as appendix “G1”, “G2”, “G3”,“G4” and “G5” regarding carriage of herpes by monkeys which is self explanatory.(8) Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary appears to be a place of animal hoarding and unfit for its residents.”

Well why not?  The accountants and tax specialists at the CRA and the bylaw officers in Brock Township must wonder on a daily basis what their risks are of acquiring herpes from a monkey.  And no, nothing in this petition is self-explanatory.

Petition:

“The Sanctuary has publicly admitted that they were not expecting Darwin and therefore he could not be caged in a better enclosure than the current small holding cell. In an article dated December 4, 2007 to the Globe And Mail, while Ms. Delaney reported that the sanctuary was at “full capacity” she added that she was still thinking of rescuing 6 more primates in her area. Again, the sanctuary confesses back on March 22, 2010 todurhamregion.comand on March 24, 2011 to the Toronto Star, that they were “almost out of room” and “filled to capacity”(source:http://www.storybookmonkeys.org/media.htm yet  the  sanctuary continues to take  in new residents. Visitors have also reported that the place was cramped. There are currently 22 or more animals in a 4000 square feet area, most of them being primates who can jump 15 feet in one leap. As recently as December 10, 2012 Ms. Delaney indicated to CBC News that she was expecting two female rhesus macaques in the next few weeks(http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/12/10/toronto-ikea-monkey.In a youtube posted by Ms. Delaney on September 5, 2012, Ms. Delaney admits seeking to bring in chimpanzees and requires her followers to “stay tuned” as she plans further expansion to add to her collection of primates:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp7v_gwMvVw&feature=endscreen&NR=1.

Of course they weren’t expecting Darwin, they had no idea he even existed prior to being contacted by Toronto Animal Services.  I have no idea whether any of these anticipated monkeys ever arrived, and it’s pointless to go into a long diatribe over what someone “might” plan to do in the future.  And what’s the point to mentioning something Sherri Delaney said she was considering in 2010, three years ago?  I guess Ms. Delaney will have to approach one of the Darling Darwin Monkey group’s most famous alleged chimpanzee owners for advice if she ever acquires a chimp.  Stay tuned – we may get to see exactly what practical knowledge this supposed chimpanzee owner really knows!

Petition:

4395394386_12225e8f3a_z“The petitioners take the view that these video recordings indicate that the Sanctuary’s owner Ms.Delaney primary agenda is not the rescue of unwanted or neglected animals but to build a private zoo or collection of primates and other exotic animals.(9) Immediately upon the capture of Darwin, the Sanctuary revamped its website removing existing information of its residents and modified them so that the residents appear to be in better health and condition.”

Are you sure the website wasn’t scheduled for a revamp?  How do you know?  I doubt that any of these petitioners had reviewed the Story Book website in any detail before Darwin escaped because they had almost certainly never heard of the place.  And if they revamp their website, so what?

Petition:

“Reports have been received from many Facebook users that unfavorable comments made by Facebook users were actively deleted by the Sanctuary so that the Sanctuary could preserve its good public image. The sanctuary appears to be concealing its true intent and purposeby tampering with viewer postings to manipulate public opinion.”

Yes,  the Canada Revenue Agency will be so incredibly captivated by the fact that people got butthurt on Facebook.  I hope the followers of the DDM Facebook know that the CRA governs excise taxes,  GST/HST,  income tax,  Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance, RSP’s,  and corporate taxes,  among other things.  They don’t care that you got your feelings hurt on Failbook.  The admins on the Story Book Facebook page have the right to censor anyone they want on their Facebook page,  because it’s THEIR page.  You can also delete comments on the Darling Darwin Monkey Facebook page without explanation or justification.  Nevertheless, you don’t see us whining to any government agency that we got censored on Facebook.

Petition:

“The Sanctuary appears to be driven by business income generation rather than animal care and safety. Immediately upon taking in Darwin, the baby macaque, as its new “celebrity” resident,the Sanctuary revamped its website adding a new section entitled “DOLLARS FOR DARWIN”.Pictures of the baby macaque are being sold to the public for $50.00 -$100.00 each and the Sanctuary created a Facebook page for Darwin which blocked members of the public protesting against such financial exploitation. The Sanctuary has admitted to raising donations totaling$15,000.00 in a week through Darwin alone.”

Again, no proof that the animal care is substandard.  And they wouldn’t have a “celebrity” resident if he hadn’t been lost in a busy parking lot on that fateful Saturday.  And Darwin would have probably quietly faded away had there not been a big media circus afterwards,  which had nothing to do with Story Book either.  And anyway,  what’s wrong with selling photos or artwork by monkeys?  Ms. Nakhuda seems fixated on the monkey waiters in Japan, which she does not see as exploitation, yet targeted fundraising is somehow manipulative of the public and the monkeys.  The Rescue Darwin and Friends group are selling t-shirts and books to support this lawsuit, when all the sanctuary is doing is soliciting funds for future care for all the animals, not just Darwin.  How is it less virtuous for the sanctuary to fundraise for future care, while the RDAF is fundraising to pay off a lawyer’s anticipated future expenses incurred suing a charity staffed by volunteers?  This is unbelievably hypocritical.  And we get it, some of you got blocked on Facebook – please – enough already. No one is obligated to “like” your views on Facebook.

Petition:

“Further, there is disturbing indication that Ms. Sherri Delaney, a Durham Region police officer may have attempted to misuse the charitable status of the Sanctuary by offering a Canadian Citizen, a tax receipt for $3,000.00 for a donation she never received from him during negotiations for the purchase of a trailer which she indicated to him was to be used for housing cages on sanctuary grounds. The undersigned are also concerned that the purported purchase of a trailer to cage animals of the Sanctuary (for quarantine or otherwise) indicates that the Sanctuary is unable to provide the “natural habitat” it promises to give to the animals it keeps hoarding and is desperate for new facilities and funding. A request for a tax audit and investigation into the validity of issuance of tax receipts by the Sanctuary is being directed to Charities Directorate, Revenue Canada Agency who is also being copied with the petition herein.(11) There is information, from some of the petitioners herein and through Facebook comments which were intentionally deleted by the Sanctuary that Ms. Delaney may have harassed owners of exotic pets and used coercion to have them surrender or persuade them to surrender their animals to the Sanctuary.

My understanding after reading this paragraph is that Ms. Delaney offered a receipt for fair-market value.  And Ms. Nakhuda’s own home wasn’t a “natural habitat” either, unless wild monkeys wear stylish outfits and designer diapers whilst 021016-627-xclimbing armoirs and brushing their teeth.  I’d also to know and understand what Ms.Nakhuda’s definition of “hoarding” is.  Hoarding encompasses a mental aspect as well as the keeping of large numbers of animals, and it’s incredibly presumptive  and quite likely libelous for these armchair psychologists to assume that anyone has  any sort of mental issues.  Rescues are not hoarders.

Petition:

“There is information, from some of the petitioners herein and through Facebook comments which were intentionally deleted by the Sanctuary that Ms. Delaney may have harassed owners of exotic pets and used coercion to have them surrender or persuade them to surrender their animals to the Sanctuary.”

I have no idea what transpired in the past with the acquisition of the Story Book monkeys,  but this just sounds like more overblown rhetoric to me,  coming from the same people who constantly claim that they are in all sorts of unsubstantiated danger from the Story Book supporters.

Petition:

“It is to be noted that Ms. Delaney claims that she is a “published author” on her web site and yet we are in receipt of information that the only publication that she has published was the Durham Police 25 Anniversary 1976-1999, a publication that was apparently recalled due to various misrepresentations and fabrications which included report of a police officer’s death at a shoot out when in fact there was no such death. The petitioners are inclined to believe, pending an inquiry to show otherwise, that the Sanctuary(1) is unqualified and lacks the expertise and knowledge to take care of primates; (2) is guilty of cruelty and abuse to its residents; (3) is operating on its own personal agenda and mission to stop private ownership of exotic animals; (4) operates primarily for its own pecuniary interest and gratification; (4) has failed to serve the community interest; (5) is not acting in the interest of the animals it has a mandate to protect; (6) is guilty of unethical misrepresentation, bias and prejudice.”

Again, why will the CRA care whether someone is a published author or not?  How does the existence of any publication have anything to do with the care of the monkeys?  So what if this anniversary publication was recalled?  It’s not like a recall for a Toyota with bad brakes – it sounds like a private, internal publication.  Should we blame Sherri Delaney if it also had typos?  I also have a “personal agenda” in writing this blog – yes,  I’m BIASED,  in favour of the truth.  And I would also like to stop private ownership of primates in Canada.  Let’s be clear please – what’s required to be a registered charity in Ontario is not encumbered by any of the above statements made by the plaintiff’s group.  There is no evidence of cruelty whatsoever, and in fact, no one on the plaintiff’s counsel presented any evidence of cruelty or abuse during the January/February 2013 hearing to determine the residency of Darwin.  So that’s a major fail on the part of the individuals behind this letter – attempting to introduce an accusation that has no basis in fact.

Petition:

monkey waiter“The petitioners are inclined to believe, pending an inquiry to show otherwise, that the Sanctuary(1) is unqualified and lacks the expertise and knowledge to take care of primates; (2) is guilty of cruelty and abuse to its residents; (3) is operating on its own personal agenda and mission to stop private ownership of exotic animals; (4) operates primarily for its own pecuniary interest and gratification; (4) has failed to serve the community interest; (5) is not acting in the interest of the animals it has a mandate to protect; (6) is guilty of unethical misrepresentation, bias and prejudice has misled and/or misinformed the public (8) has actively concealed its true agenda by manipulation of facebook and You Tube viewer postings; and (9) has attempted to misuse its charitable status to raise donations inappropriately . As such we require that you do the needful to forthwith investigate into the following:

The background of Ms. Sherri Delaney and the competence of the owners, associates and volunteers in providing care to the residents of the Sanctuary

Compliance of the Sanctuary with applicable statutory regulations to include, building code,fire code, Electrical Act and OSPCA

Hoarding of animals

Cruelty and abuse to animals

The questionable procedures used by the Sanctuary for neutering Julien a “protected”resident of the Sanctuary

Exploitation of animals for pecuniary gains

Separation of loving owners from their pets without just cause

Manipulation of public opinion and tampering with viewer postings

Yeah,  I think the Brock Township and the CRA should get on this right away,  because this is how I want my taxes spent.  If any of these petitioners want to see real exploitation of animals for profit,  they can visit any number of public roadside zoos or a large travelling zoo.  And what the hell is up with people who insist that they have the right to compel you to read their inane social media commentary?  Does Brock Township investigate if you block some posters from commenting on your Youtube channel?  God I hope not, or I might end up being the subject of a campaign myself………

Petition:

“Misuse or abuse of its charitable status by the Sanctuary. Please be advised that the undersigned petitioners strongly oppose the granting of a licence to the Sanctuary. Based on information and other reports obtained by the undersigned, the undersigned are inclined to believe that the Sanctuary not only wants to destroy any relationship private pet owners may have with their primates and other pets but to use its residents for its own gratification. The Sanctuary appears to be private ownership of animals without the sanctity of a sanctuary. We request an immediate enquiry in its operation and your findings be made public. We thank you for your prompt attention herein.”

Nothing destroys your relationship with your wild animal quite like losing him in an urban environment.  If I were a baby monkey I would feel utterly betrayed by my human.

Show Me The Monkey!

Standard
Sculpted by Hugo Rheinhold and first publicly exhibited in 1893 at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition, this sculpture both amuses and intrigues. As the monkey contemplates a human skull, he rests on a pile of books--one of which is by Darwin, the naturalist whose theory about evolution is legendary.

Sculpted by Hugo Rheinhold and first publicly exhibited in 1893 at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition, this sculpture both amuses and intrigues. As the chimpanzee contemplates a human skull, he rests on a pile of books–one of which is by Darwin, the naturalist whose theory about evolution is legendary. Technically,  a chimpanzee is not a monkey – the genus Pan is part of the subfamily Hominidae, to which humans also belong,

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

As most everyone knows, the hearing to establish where Darwin the IKEA monkey lives (at least until the scheduled trial in May) has come and gone.  While Superior Court Justice Brown found that the plaintiff, Darwin’s former owner Yasmin Nakhuda had “credibility issues,” the court of public opinion also played out on Facebook pages supporting Nakhuda and private ownership of exotics.

The hearing itself was prone to the odd verbal blunder or embarrassment that might have prompted a chuckle or two, but many of the Facebook posts  made by exotic animal collectors,  conspiracy theorists,  or other perpetually misguided individuals amused,  entertained,  and exasperated many observers.

While it’s hard not to laugh at the delirious craziness and massive cognitive errors in many comments or posts, many other posts clearly constitute harassment against the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary and its supporters.

The Debate Beginsmonkey_makeup

In late December, the “Darling Darwin Monkey” page is created on Facebook and immediately attracts people who both support and decry exotic ownership in varying degrees.  “Monkey Mom” leaves most of the arguing up her supporters, some of whom were banned from the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary’s own Facebook page.  Judging by the hysterical shrieks seen on the DDM page, I totally get why they were kicked to the curb.

I realize that lawyers are not biologists, nor do they know anything about the scientific method, so I won’t be too hard on the plaintiff’s lawyer Ted Charney.  Mr. Charney began his opening remarks at the hearing by somewhat likening Darwin, the monkey, to his namesake,  “scientist” Charles Darwin,  who,  according to him,  “invented evolution.”  What Darwin  – a naturalist – actually provided in The Origin of Species, was the theory for how evolution could occur through purely natural forces – “natural selection,” which he posited drove evolution.

The Debate Continues

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of a conspiracy theory or logical fallacy, which obey their own special laws.  So when it looks like someone who is armed with facts is about to upset a cherished applecart on the DDM Facebook page, there is only one thing to do – move the goalposts.  The phrase evokes an image of the goal posts in the endzone of a football game which are slowly moved to the back of the endzone as one team threatens to score.  Behind this Facebook squabbling there has been some serious goalpost maneuvering, in an effort to redefine exactly what constitutes “proof.”  One of the best examples of this in action occurs during the discussion of the donated plants in the monkey habitats, where it was constantly claimed  that the plants weren’t actually donated,  or weren’t valued at $3,000, were never placed in the habitats, or just didn’t exist.   Each time proof was provided the goalpost was moved back further in an attempt to confound the truth.

howler monkeysThe Debate Gets Ridiculous

The Facebook page in question continued to offer a veritable treasure chest of “wisdom” in refuting the truth.  It’s a place where no good deed goes unpunished and common sense is not so common.

People making the following types of comments/actions are truly in a race for the bottom.  Check out their “field guide” for dealing with the intellectually honest:

  1. Always make sure to bring minor children into arguments with adults with the blessing of the parent, and then have the kid protest that he’s only a kid when adults call him on his statements.

  2. When adults argue with children in response to the above, insist that arguing with a child is bullying, but if they pre-emptively block that child, call them on it because  “he has a right to be heard.”

  3. Be sure to file a copyright claim against any company or individual selling (Charles) Darwin merchandise!

  4. Do claim that IKEA is at fault for calling Toronto Animal Services to collect Darwin from the parking lot, because we know they should have simply just captured him and instructed shoppers to “claim their stylishly dressed primate at customer service.”

  5. Blame IKEA customers themselves, for they should have put their fears about unknown animals aside and just picked Darwin up and then waited around for his owner to return from shopping. It’s not as though they have anything better to do on a Saturday anyway.

  6. Be sure to let everyone know that a Japanese macaque, who lives in cold climates part of the year, is “cold” because he’s growing a coat.

  7. Don’t forget to compare Canada to Nazi Germany.

  8. Vent your frustration all over Facebook if you see a picture of Darwin alone, but make sure to let everyone know that under no circumstances should he be introduced to another monkey.

  9. Remember to toss out the conspiracy theory that plaintiff Nakhuda’s email was hacked by Sherri Delaney and that’s how emails to/from Lisa Whiteaker were “intercepted.”

  10. Tell Story Book supporters that they must prove their point with supporting documentation, and then tell them not to rely on everything they read.  Then lose the documentation they provide and ask for more.

  11. Make sure everyone knows that the monkeys are simultaneously too hot and too cold in their habitats at Story Book.

  12. Take active steps to harass the sanctuary and express incredulity when people ask why it looks like a fortress with security guards at the front gate.

  13. Complain about monkeys in cages but continue to support exotic animal breeders.

  14. Petition to ask the OSPCA to inspect the property – and once it does, make sure everyone knows that that’s just not good enough.

  15. Bitch that there was not enough enrichment at the sanctuary, and then whine that food being hidden and painting for monkeys is cruel and unusual punishment and exploitation.

  16. Phone in a complaint to the local Fire Department, and when they pass the sanctuary, hint that the Fire Department is either incompetent or in cahoots with the sanctuary.

  17. Keep up the pressure on the logical members of the group by continuing to make shrill accusations about Story Book and Darwin’s “B” status.  Ignore the fact that a high percentage of monkeys are Herp B positive and blissfully disregard Story Book’s own statement that Darwin was tested (by them) and found to be negative.

  18. When it is pointed out that a monkey has been stewing in its own shitty diaper, be sure to make comments about someone’s hair in retaliation.

  19. Lambast Story Book for fundraising whilst simultaneously complaining that they operate on a shoe-string budget.

  20. Harass Story Book’s fundraising partners and sponsors.

  21. Give everyone the false impression that Story Book is illegal/unlicensed while not batting an eye at the prospect of unlicensed, illegal pets.

  22. Criticize Story Book’s founder for not being stylish enough in court, but suggest that she’s spending the charity’s money in high end Toronto department stores.

  23. Set up a poorly thought-out Facebook page to gather recruits to “Free all 24 primates at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary,” and when confronted about its mission,  hurriedly take it down.

  24. Be sure to toss in a few claims that someone threatened to rape and murder you for good measure.

  25. Use children to tell Story Book supporters that they are being “investigated.”

tinfoil hatThe Verdict

Justice Brown ultimately rendered his opinion that Darwin should remain at Story Book, in the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary.  The judge heard no evidence of wrongdoing or neglect from the plaintiffs counsel Charney against Story Book, and was not convinced by “expert” testimony that Darwin’s relationship with his owner would be irretrievably damaged.  Nakhuda and her son refused to stand when the judge left the courtroom. There were a few statements made either in closing arguments or interviews after-the-fact that should be filed under the category “too good not to report.”

  1. She doesn’t go around smacking the monkey.”  Statement by plaintiff counsel Ted Charney.  What an unfortunate choice of words.  Truly.
  2. Darwin is not a wild animal, he is a domesticated animal; he was wearing a coat and a diaper.”  Plaintiff’s counsel  Ted Charney.  It’s not appropriate to keep the most stylishly-attired animal in the house if he is biting a twelve-year old.
  3. I speak macaque.”  The defendant’s lawyer,  Kevin Toyne scoffed at the “expert” characterization, deriding as ridiculous Ms. Peggy Rice’s claim that she could “speak macaque.”

Unfortunately it seems as though the media circus is far from over.  A quick Google seach shows that “IKEA monkey” often outranks legitimate IKEA social media comments and websites.  Monkey ownersdrunk_as_monkey from across the US and Canada,  who see this as a “right to own” issue and who have no familiarity with by-laws in Toronto or the Kawarthas, are still harassing this sanctuary.  Sanctuaries are run by hard working people, who hold down jobs outside of the sanctuary, and much of their operating funds come from donations.

The idea that any rescue is looking for additional animals to feed just to spitefully keep animals away from “responsible owners” deserves ridicule.  Story Book played no role in Darwin’s arrival at the sanctuary and without them there would be fewer options for monkeys who retire from research,  or are surrendered by roadside zoos or private owners.

chimp-painterAfter witnessing the dirty tricks campaign against Story Book, I can perhaps co-sign a Stanford geneticist’s study that suggests that human cognition is in decline.  Despite evidence of some humans acting like neanderthals,  we still live in a civilized society.  Every civilized society must strive to insure that the innocent aren’t punished along with the “guilty.” Protecting the innocent from unjust harm as a result of wrongful accusations is a hallmark of a civilized society.  Much of what I’ve seen posted on Facebook pages and handed out to journalists is quite actionable in the tort system, should any of the maligned animal activists choose to make a case for defamation.  And however strongly we feel the instinct to mother wild animals, it is rarely the right response.  To that end,  laws around the world are slowly beginning to reflect the fact that monkeys don’t make good pets.

Please support Story Book Farm on Facebook.

“Rosencrantz: I don’t believe in it anyway.
Guildenstern: What?
Rosencrantz: England.
Guildenstern: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then? ”

monkey mom love

Start The Car! The IKEA Monkey Chronicle Gets Ugly

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Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

The discovery of Darwin, a juvenile macaque found wandering the Toronto IKEA store parking lot in a shearling coat, has divided various groups on the internet.  As most Torontonians already know, the “IKEA Monkey” was taken from the store by Toronto Animal Services and ultimately placed at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.  Story Book takes in such lost souls—monkeys who have been commandeered for lab research or just dumped by roadside zoos. Bravo to Story Book Farm!

You’d be wrong in thinking that Darwin’s case was straightforward,  even though it’s illegal to own a non-human primate in Toronto.  It’s also generally frowned upon to  leave an exotic animal in a car in winter while shopping.  In response,  defenders of exotic animal ownership,  property rights,  and various other asshats and wingnuts have laid siege to Story Book Farm in an attempt to discredit them.   Darwin has lawyered-up, or rather his former owner Yasmin Nakhuda has launched a lawsuit as well.

Such tactics include, but are not limited to sending a petition to Brock Township councillors accusing

Darwin's jacket

Darwin’s jacket

Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary of animal cruelty.  The petition, with some 116 typed “signatures,” was hand-delivered to council members’ homes early January,  calls for municipal officials to launch a “full investigation” on the sanctuary’s operation.  It’s not known whether they actually have any evidence,  not that that would be a deterrent for some of these people.  And is anyone else bothered by the fact that the petitions were delivered to the councillor’s private HOMES?  Brock Township Mayor Terry Clayton stipulated that the “petition will have no bearing on the licensing process” for Story Book Farm.  Brad Dewar, spokesperson for the OSPCA, said that the petition had not been delivered to the association’s  office. The OSPCA can’t begin an investigation without first interviewing a witness to the alleged misconduct, he said.  “Petitions are great for identifying concerns, but from an investigation standpoint, we need eyewitnesses to come forward to engage in an investigation,” he said.  Herein lies the problem for the signers of the petition – have any of them been to the sanctuary or seen any cruelty?  Furthermore,  could a lawyer (Nakhuda) be disciplined if any statements in the petition linked to or co-signed by her were found to be blatantly false even if she did not make them herself?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Who wore it better?  Darwin or Delboy?

Who wore it better? Darwin or Delboy?

I can’t imagine what “cruelty” these detractors think is happening at Story Book.  But that’s really a rhetorical question,  since facts make strange bedfellows for them.  What would be the alternative for Darwin or any other monkey that is seized or surrendered in Ontario?  My personal belief is that NO MATTER WHERE Darwin was sent,  the exotics breeders and owners would DESCEND with malice aforethought on that sanctuary just as they have with Story Book.  When Darwin was collected from his mis-adventure in the IKEA parking lot, Toronto Animal Services temporarily housed him in a standard pet carry-all sized cage with barking dogs and other animals in the vicinity.  Without such sanctuary placements, the alternative is to warehouse “pet” monkeys,  which the majority of zoos will not accept,  or euthanize them outright.  And is it cruel for a monkey to have to wear diapers its entire life so that it can be accommodated in a household with people?

A posting on the Facebook page – “Darling Darwin Monkey” indicated that the petition had been

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

delivered to the Township, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), and the Charities Directorate of the Canadian Revenue Agency, requesting “an investigation in several allegations of cruelty, hoarding, manipulation, lack of experience and abuse of their charitable status by the Sanctuary.”  In other words,  they’ve thrown some monkey shit up against the wall in hoping something will stick.  Do lawyers even know what evidence is  in this day and age?  But Yasmin Nakhuda is a real estate lawyer,  not exactly at the top of the legal food-chain. The Facebook page is frequented by supporters of Darwin’s former owner Nakhuda as well as animal advocates who know that Darwin is a wild animal who will exhibit behavioural changes once he reaches  sexual maturity.

Aside from these unsubstantiated claims by the supporters of exotic pet ownership, it’s apparent that none of them see any shame in supporting the exotic trade of animals such as Darwin, who was uprooted from his mother after only a few weeks,  to be bottle-fed by Yasmin while wearing diapers.  The juveniles of many monkey species live with their mothers for up to two

Darwin's temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services - where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book

Darwin’s temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services – where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book – does this look like suitable long-term care?

years. The precarious state of primates in the illegal pet trade bring up the issues of animal ethics, ecosystem health and many conservation issues.  When people illegally source monkeys from the animal trade they do not recognize or care that this is all it takes to support the illegal pet trade.  The “trade” threatens a great number of endangered and vulnerable species.  A monkey is not a child.  I very much sympathize with Nakhuda’s emotional position, but Darwin is a wild animal who needs the company of his own and other primate species – to claim that any monkey is better suited to living its life in diapers with humans, forced to adapt to human culture, is baseless anthropomorphization.

Apart from calling attention to the various dirty-tricks campaigns currently underway, I’m most interested throwing some shade on the belief that monkeys make good pets or that they are suddenly domesticated after one or two generations.  I’ll drop a flat “no” on both of those claims.

Darwin at Story Book

Darwin at Story Book

Monkeys carry Cercopithecine herpesvirus, which is transmissible to humans and stays with you for life.  This form of herpesvirus simiae can cause fatal encephalitis in people if they’ve been bitten by a monkey carrier.  You also don’t want to get bitten by a monkey under any circumstances,  because they have sharp teeth and they often attack the face or ears,  where there are lots of blood vessels located very close to the brain.  A paper co-authored by people from the CDC (Ostrowski et al, Emerging Infectious Diseases 1998) states clearly “The extremely high prevalence of B-virus along with their behavioral characteristics make the macaque species unsuitable as pets.”  PetWatch (a program of EcoHealth Alliance) ranks macaques as “Worst Choice Pet.”

The idea that humans immediately “tame” an animal born into captivity is misleading.  Wolves originally kept by humans as companions were turned into “dogs” by selectively breeding the tame animals.  Humans bred the animals that reacted well to humans, and did not breed animals that were aggressive or ran away.  What was not realized at the time was that we were assisted in turning wolves into dogs because behaviour in animals is a heritable trait, like intelligence.

Geneticist George Price, of Price’s Theorem fame, defined domestication as a process by which a

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

population of animals becomes adapted to man and the environment as a result of genetic mutation, neurochemical changes, and environmentally induced developmental changes. In long-term selection experiments designed to study the consequences of selection for the “tame” domesticated type of behaviour, Belyaev et al. (1981) studied foxes reared for their fur. The red fox (Vulpes fulva) has been raised on seminatural fur farms for over 100 years and was selected for fur traits and not behavioural traits.  The objective of this experiment was to breed animals similar in behaviour to the domestic dog. By selecting and breeding the tamest individuals, 20 years later the experiment succeeded in turning wild foxes into tame “dogs.”

While Price and Belyaev were refining the principles of conditioning on animals, ethology – the study of the way genes are modified during evolution to deal with particular environments,  was a developing science.  Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen cataloged the behaviour of many animals in their natural environments. Together they developed the ethogram. An ethogram is a complete listing of all the behaviours that an animal performs in its natural environment. It includes both innate and learned behaviours – hard-wired programs versus experience and learning.  People intent on returning Darwin to a home-based environment don’t seem to know or wish to acknowledge that even animals with large, complex brains are still governed by innate behaviour patterns.  As these studies have shown,  instantaneous pets are not created via short-term human influence,  regardless of whether dog or monkey is the subject matter.

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Kari Bagnall, the CEO of Jungle Friends, gave testimony on the Ohio exotics Senate Bill 310.  She couldn’t come to Columbus, so it was submitted as written testimony.  Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, located on 12 acres in Gainesville, Florida. Jungle Friends is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association and The Association of Sanctuaries.   The Ohio law will ban new ownership of specific wild animals, including big cats, bears, hyenas, gray wolves, some primates, alligators and crocodiles – all animals that exotics people feel  they automatically have the right to own without restriction.  The Bill will also require owners of restricted species to obtain liability insurance or surety bonds for $200,000 to $1 million, and mandate criminal-background checks of current exotic-animal owners seeking permits.   Please read Kari Bagnall’s very compelling testimony describing the circumstances by which monkeys came to her sanctuary;  I reproduce it here with permission from Ms. Bagnall herself:

Monkey Orchid - a good substitute for an actual monkey,  diapers not required  and guaranteed not to bite....

Monkey Orchid – a good substitute for an actual monkey, diapers not required and guaranteed not to bite….

What eludes me is the “logic” involved in attacking the sanctuary, which did nothing wrong and certainly did not steal him nor let the latch on the car loose so he could escape.  For some reason, humans feel entltled to raise babies in unnatural circumstances. Darwin’s sad case has served to highlight the fact that he is not just a meme,  an IKEA monkey, but a macaque capable of living to his fullest potential in a more natural environment.  We need to educate others and create awareness of illegal pets who need to live their lives as non-human apes.