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Government defends “monkey business” after PETA call for boycott on Thai coconut products

Jack Burton



PHOTO: The Culture Trip

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the US-based animal rights group, is no stranger to controversy and has been accused of double standards in the past. Now it faces accusations of “cultural racism” after its open call to ban all Thai coconut products because some of the coconuts may have been harvested by monkeys. In a statement issued this morning…

“PETA hopes that at today’s meeting, Thai Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit and the coconut industry will stop lying to the public and acknowledge the industry’s exploitation of monkeys. Our documentation is clear and unequivocal: Monkeys are kept chained, caged, and isolated for life simply because the industry won’t expend funds to mechanise coconut picking as other countries have done.

“These animals, some of whom were seized from their natural habitat as babies, cannot play or be with their families: They are denied freedom and any semblance of a natural life, and the industry’s training methods are harsh and psychologically damaging. Forcing monkeys to pick coconuts must be relegated to the history books, and now is the time for the government and the coconut industry in Thailand to realize that using and abusing monkeys is no longer an option.”

But in a Facebook post today, the secretary-general of the Kla Party asked about the difference between using monkeys to pick coconuts in Thailand and the use of pigs to search for truffles in Europe. He said that the use of monkeys and pigs are two different cultures and both are respectable, and that in Thailand, monkeys and men work together to pick coconuts, with the animals properly trained at special schools. In the West, he said, pigs have been used for generations to find truffles, an expensive delicacy.

“PETA’s concern over animal cruelty is understandable, but its campaign for countries to ban coconut products from Thailand is cruel and an insult to our culture. Nowadays, one should respect racial and cultural diversity.”

TV celebrity Narakorn Tiyanont is calling on PETA to look at the way Western farmers raise geese to make foie gras, or goose liver, a delicacy in French cuisine. She says the geese are force-fed using metal tubes to fatten the liver. She also cited the brutal treatment of cows in the dairy industry.

A Former Prachuap Khiri Khan MP candidate says the accusation of monkey abuse might have an ulterior motive to ban Thai products

“In the past, Thai rice farmers used water buffaloes in paddy fields and foreigners never banned Thai rice.”

In a statement to Thai PBS World, PETA senior vice president Jason Baker confirmed their findings of cruel treatment of monkeys in the harvesting of coconuts in Thailand.

“When the government tries to explain away extreme cruelty to monkeys, it only makes the public angrier. The world doesn’t want to see these animals being deprived of their natural lives and exploited by the coconut industry. The government can lead the industry to operate humanely, with an animal-free method, which the rest of the region has already adopted, or it can be responsible for the industry’s downfall, because the writing is on the wall.”

“Increasing numbers of consumers are speaking with their wallets, and retailers are listening. Our investigator was told repeatedly that these monkeys are taken from their families in nature, kept chained-up, abusively trained and forced to climb trees. They should be with their families, not enslaved.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World | Chiang Mai One


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  1. Avatar


    Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for mentioning the group PETA is a US group.

    So far I have been having my ears bashed by many Thais as the general news is saying PETA is a British organization and therefore I am responsible as a resident Brit here in Phuket.

    The monkeys used are bred domestically and well looked after as are dogs for the blind, should dogs also be not allowed to work, what about sheepdogs on sheep farms in the UK?

    I can see the monkeys being banned from working and then abandoned to starve as the owners can not afford to keep them.

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      Abandoned monkeys will do what they are capable of doing, survive. They always have.
      There is nothing funnier than a Thai Government caught and squirming to claim they are innocent, but cannot because the foreigners are abroad out of their control.
      The government believe they can say water is not wet in Thailand, and no resident of Thailand is likely to oppose them.
      If they do it will not matter.
      Hit the Thais where it hurt – in the pocket. They deserve it the cruel, twisting, liars.

    • Avatar

      Nattapong Nilsen

      Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      Should also police/army dogs quit their profession. Is that also against their nature or habitat and involves risks? What about polo horses or racehorses using for entertainment against their will is that also included? Is sled dog also a culture that need attention for putting dogs to work? What about 50–100 million vertebrate animals are used in experiments annually. Are they there voluntarily? And most of all, meat and dairy industry are those billions of pigs, cows, goats, chicken etc. living by their habitat before becoming food on table yearly? Is that done humanly?

      I respect PETA and they are doing fantastic job for the rights of animals, but I think here can be resolved in a better manner. Humans and animals can live together harmoniously like dogs and cats in western culture, like human and monkeys in eastern culture.

      I still think this is a good attention to point out. We humans tends at some point to get overpowered by the greed and there come overproduction. This is a great ethical point. Hopefully this can lead to more structured relationship and understanding between humans and monkeys where it can benefits all of us, humans, monkeys and nature.

  2. Avatar


    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 1:43 am

    I’m so glad PETA is exposing this abuse. Now the Thai government needs to quit trying to deny the cruelty and step in to help these animals.

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at 6:55 pm

      Anyone that believes what PETA says really need to check their facts. PETA as an organisation kills many dogs and cats in their shelter rather then rehome these animals in the US. Their main objective is money and only money. They don’t give 2 rat’s behind about animals.

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 7:06 am

    Put the monkeys to work, why not? They are gangsters and need to do something productive.

  4. Avatar

    ราเมศ กาญจนะ

    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Hello Peta.
    Are you stupid or foolish? Who thinks that Thailand uses monkeys to grow trees as a torture Have you ever studied the culture of the people you attacked him like? No. You’re just thinking about attacking other people. To make yourself look good So that those who support you are satisfied Will someone lose the chip or how? Do you guys eat meat? Do you raise animals at home? Or if never mentioned Then go to die, and the monkey mouse that has been tried has let go Snakes that are rolled into the serum, do not. The zoo is closed. The buffalo is still better than you think.

  5. Avatar

    Jaturong Saetae

    Friday, July 10, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    How many monkeys are trained to get up in the trees and can collect coconuts for humans? It is special He raised it like a relative.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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