OTTAWA // A stylishly-attired monkey became an instant Internet celebrity, and triggered an animal welfare investigation, when it was found wandering in a Canadian furniture store car park.
The months-old rhesus macaque, named Darwin, spent the night at an animal shelter in Toronto after he was found wandering around an IKEA lot wearing a sheepskin coat on Sunday afternoon.
Darwin apparently opened his crate and the door of his owner's vehicle and went for a stroll. His adventure, however, didn't stop there.
Snap-happy Canadians took photographs of the cute critter and posted them online and Darwin immediately became a viral sensation on social media.
His image was pasted into mockups of the IKEA catalogue, atop Toronto's CN Tower, in Canada's parliament seated next to the prime minister and elsewhere.
A prankster registered a Twitter account in Darwin's name, writing: "I'm way over dressed for this animal shelter" and "There's a cat giving me weird looks... What do I do?"
Outside Canada's parliament, opposition MP Chris Charlton evoked the monkey in swipes at the government: "Conservatives are as lost as a monkey in an IKEA. Though at least the monkey was wearing a coat to cover his shame."
But animal welfare authorities were less amused.
Mary Lou Leiher of Toronto's Animal Services said: "He's not very happy right now. He's comfortable, but he's having a bad day."
Canada is no place for a rhesus macaque, she told a press conference.
"It's a very exotic choice for a pet," she said. "Common sense would say, 'Get a dog.'"
Darwin's owner, who Canada's Globe and Mail says is Toronto real estate lawyer Yasmin Nakhuda, has reportedly been slapped with a Can$240 (Dh890) fine for owning a prohibited exotic pet and Animal Services is now looking for a new home for him at an animal sanctuary.
The monkey was purchased from Montreal when he was about one-and-a-half months old, the daily said.
"I know he cannot live without me," Ms Nakhuda told City TV. "And everyone who knows Darwin can vouch for this. He needs his mother like a child needs his mother."
Ms Nakhuda has posted videos of Darwin on YouTube.