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Monkey's mom struggled to control primate

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OSHAWA, Ont. -- The woman who refers to herself as the IKEA monkey's mom wrote in an email that she was "unfit" to care for the primate, calling him a "time bomb" because she couldn't stop him from biting, court heard Thursday.

Emails from Yasmin Nakhuda to an American monkey trainer were read out during a court hearing in which Nakhuda is attempting to get Darwin back at least temporarily from the primate sanctuary where he was sent after being seized at IKEA by Toronto Animal Services.

The emails describe Nakhuda's struggles in controlling Darwin's behaviour. Her husband received "the most vicious bites" but Darwin was also biting her 12-year-old son, she wrote.

Monkey trainer Lisa Whiteaker responded to Nakhuda's email by saying Nakhuda had a lot to learn about primates and that she desperately needed help.

"He will attack someone in your office," Whiteaker predicted. Nakhuda, a real estate lawyer, took Darwin to her office every day since getting him in July, court heard. "One bite (to) the wrong person and he will be taken away."

Whiteaker, Nakhuda's lawyer noted, was convicted in the United States under animal welfare laws of contributing to a monkey's death.

Nakhuda was surprised by the trainer's negative response, her lawyer said, and was upset in her reply to Whiteaker.

"I have concluded, judging by the tons of mistakes you say I have already made ... that I am truly unfit to be a caregiver for Darwin," Nakhuda wrote. "You are right to say that I am sitting on a time bomb ... I don't believe Darwin can change ... All I can do now is to take Darwin to an animal shelter and I don't even know one here."

Nakhuda's lawyer, Ted Charney, suggested his client didn't really mean that. She was despondent over the criticism from Whiteaker, he said.

The judge is set to give his decision today.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 A2

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