By Ian Firstenberg
(MARTINEZ, Calif.) Northern California grocery store chain Raley's has reportedly stopped selling coconut milk from Thailand-based producer Chaokoh. This decision comes after two People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) investigations uncovered the use of chained and caged monkeys in the picking process.
According to a press release from the nonprofit dated May 11, PETA's two investigations revealed that the abuse was widespread with every farm they investigated. They found cruelty to monkeys occurring at every farm, training facility and every coconut-picking contest used monkey labor.
"When not being forced to pick coconuts or perform in circus-style shows for tourists, the animals were kept tethered, chained to old tires, or confined to cages barely larger than their bodies," the release read in part.
According to a PETA statement released in early January of this year, the organization's Asia division found that the Thai government lied to the public and importers about the monkey use, dispute PETA's claims that widespread animal abuse was occurring throughout the industry.
While Chaokoh is the biggest Thai coconut milk brand, it is not the only one found to be abusing animals during processing and as such a number of other grocery stores, including Target and Costco, have also cut ties with many Thai-based coconut milk producers.
“A life as a chained-up coconut-picking machine is no life at all for a monkey, who needs to socialize, play, and explore with family members,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in the May press statement. “Since PETA exposés have confirmed cover-ups of cruelty on coconut farms, no grocery store with a conscience can keep Chaokoh products on its shelves, and Raley’s should be recognized for taking action.”
In a harrowing video released by PETA following the investigations, monkeys can be seen chained to pegs in the dirt and caged before being forced to pick the coconuts. One insider who spoke in the video on conditions of anonymity noted that government officials would come to the farms often but producers would often hide the monkeys to avoid the legal consequences of using monkeys in this way.
Photos from the investigation are available here.
Overall, more than 26,000 stores across the country have banned coconut milk brands that use monkeys for labor.