This week, big box chain Costco announced that it will no longer carry products made by Thailand-based coconut milk producer Chaokoh after an investigation revealed that the brand uses forced monkey labor to pick coconuts. Investigators on behalf of animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia visited four “monkey schools,” eight farms, and one coconut-picking competition, to discover that chained monkeys—who were likely illegally captured from the wild as babies—were forced to climb trees and pick coconuts for worldwide distribution. When the animals were not picking coconuts, they were chained to old tires or kept in tiny cages. According to PETA Asia, the animals displayed many signs of mental distress and some would have their canine teeth removed if they tried to defend themselves. According to PETA Asia, the use of forced monkey labor is prevalent in Thailand, which supplies coconuts for products made by Chaokoh and Aroy-D.

Costco joins 25,000 retailers—including Walgreens, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop—which, following PETA’s investigation, have banned the sale of coconut products linked to monkey labor. “No kind shopper wants monkeys to be chained up and treated like coconut-picking machines,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said. “Costco made the right call to reject animal exploitation, and PETA is calling on holdouts like Kroger to follow suit.” 

Coconut growers in other regions—including Brazil, Hawaii, and Colombia—typically use harvesting methods that do not involve monkey labor such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human tree-climbers, and rope or platform systems.

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