Despite efforts to raise awareness about the cruel treatment of monkeys in the coconut industry, these intelligent primates are still being enslaved by coconut farmers in Thailand. As the demand for vegan milk continues to rise, these monkeys are forced to work in chains, harvesting hundreds of coconuts each day under the supervision of their handlers.
The monkeys endure grueling hours picking coconuts while being tethered to the ground when not engaged in their laborious tasks, as reported by The Times. Their handlers control them by pulling on ropes tied around the animals, ensuring compliance during their shifts high up in the trees.
Despite a three-year campaign by the animal rights charity Peta in 2019, some farms in Thailand persist in exploiting monkeys for labor. These innocent animals are either bred in captivity or stolen from their mothers in the jungle as babies. Past footage released by Peta has exposed the dark secrets of the monkey labor industry, revealing the torture they endure while in captivity.
Handlers employ methods of intimidation and brutal punishment to train the macaques, including whipping and hanging them by their necks. The cruelty extends further, with reports from Peta indicating that the monkeys' sharp front teeth are often removed to prevent them from biting themselves or their handlers.
Tragically, the nightmare continues as the demand for vegan milk surges. In response, Peta has called for a boycott of all Thai-made coconut products until monkeys are no longer exploited for free labor. HelloFresh, the world's leading meal-kit provider, recently joined other international businesses in completely discontinuing the use of Thai coconut milk.
In Thailand, poachers either trap young primates or kill their mothers to obtain them. The two monkey species used in coconut farming have been classified as "vulnerable" and "endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "red list."
Beyond the physical labor, the mental well-being of these sociable, wild animals is profoundly affected. Peta explains that the lack of social contact inflicts extreme mental anguish and depression on the monkeys. Confined to barren, trash-filled areas where they are chained, they exhibit desperate behaviors such as pacing and endless circling.
However, not everyone agrees that the enslavement of monkeys should be banned, including certain influential Thai politicians and industry figures. Government officials in Thailand have even argued that coconut-picking is a natural behavior for macaques and consider it a cultural tradition, according to The Times.
The plight of these monkeys highlights the need for ongoing efforts to combat animal exploitation, protect endangered species, and promote ethical practices within the coconut industry.