It sounds like something out of a dystopian TV show: monkeys, kept in chains and forced to work picking… coconuts. Yet that’s exactly what’s going on with one of Walmart’s suppliers, according to FOX Business.
Walmart is the latest retailer to stop selling Chaokoh coconut milk due to allegations from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that monkeys are used as slave labor in its production. Target, Wegmans, and Costco have already stopped selling the milk.
PETA has accused the Thai coconut milk brand of using monkeys as forced labor for the coconut harvest, making them wear metal collars, keeping them tethered, and caring for them badly. In some cases, their canine teeth are pulled. A network of abusive training schools teaches them how to work after they’ve been kidnapped from the the wild.
“The coconut trade uses social monkeys as chained-up coconut-picking machines, depriving them of any opportunity to eat, play, or spend time with their families,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president.
A protest had people dressed in black-and-white jail garb with monkey masks over their faces, carrying signs reading, “Thailand: Stop Coconut Industry Monkey Abuse.”
The exploitation of monkeys in the coconut industry is an ongoing problem in Thailand, and PETA has been tracking it for several years. They recently conducted undercover investigations that discovered monkeys being forced to pick coconuts all day, every day, while clapped in chains.
Their investigation found “cruelty to monkeys on every farm, at every monkey-training facility, and in every coconut-picking contest that used monkey labor.”
Forced monkey labor is nothing new. According to a 2015 NPR article, “Thailand has been raising and training pigtailed macaques to pick coconuts for around 400 years.” Not all monkey-training schools are abusive, a source told the network, and not all working monkeys are abused.
“”It is always relaxed, no shouting, no punishing,” said Arjen Schroevers, who runs the Monkey Training School in Surat Thani, Thailand. “Every few trees the monkey hugs his owner, who then checks the monkey for red ants (who live in the trees) and the monkey gets a massage. Outside working hours the monkeys are kept as a pet.”
PETA has launched a campaign against grocery chains to stop selling Chaokoh. More than 26,000 stores, including Costco, Food Lion, Stop & Shop and Target, have agreed to drop the brand.
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