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 owners have reportedly been slapped with a Can$240 (187 euro) fine for owning a prohibited exotic pet and Animal Services is now looking for a new home for Darwin at an animal sanctuary.
Image: Ian Muttoo / via Flickr