The woman claiming to be Darwin the monkey’s “mother” says she signed over his ownership to Toronto Animal Services “under duress and pressure,” after she was told it was the only way she would be able to see the primate again.

“I did not sign voluntarily,” Yasmin Nakhuda told CityNews on Tuesday. “I would not have signed.”

Nakhuda is now staging a legal fight to have Darwin returned, and has even offered to relocate to an area where owning a monkey is legal.

But she added, “I believe Darwin should be given back to me. I believe he needs his mom.”

Darwin, a seven-month-old rhesus macaque, was found wandering at an Ikea store in North York on Sunday donning a tiny shearling coat and a diaper. He managed to escape from a crate in Nakhuda’s car while she shopped.

The tiny primate was sent to the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary near Sunderland, Ont., about 100 kilometres northeast of Toronto on Monday after being seized.  

Nakhuda was fined $240 for breaking the city’s prohibited-animal bylaw as it’s illegal to keep a monkey as a pet in Toronto.

Story Book’s founder Sherri Delaney told CityNews that Darwin is doing well in his new habitat.

“Darwin is doing remarkably well. He’s getting well acquainted with his new enclosure. He is very busy and active. He is checking things out,” she said.

They are trying to bond Darwin with a new mother-figure — a baboon named Sweetpeas.

“It’s a more natural setting for him here. Although they are in enclosures, he is allowed to be a monkey. He’s not wearing clothes, nobody is requiring him to act like a human. He’s allowed to be his natural and authentic self.”

“Certainly we don’t see any signs of him missing anyone.”

Nakhuda says she’ll give up her fight to take Darwin back if she has “concrete evidence” that he’s happy. 

She currently doesn’t have visitation rights at the sanctuary, but wants to be able to see how Darwin reacts to seeing her.

“If Darwin is happy, I’ll accept that,” she said.