Video evidence captured by PETA Asia demonstrates trainers striking and whipping the monkeys and dangling them by their necks.
By Sharon Aron Baron
A Coral Springs resident was arrested during a sit-in at a Whole Foods store in Washington, D.C., on June 14—which led to the store’s closing over the company’s sale of Thai coconut milk.
Wendy Fernandez, 35, mother of one and animal rights activist, found herself behind bars following a sit-in protest.
The demonstration, which resulted in the store’s temporary closure, aimed to draw attention to the sale of Thai coconut milk and its alleged connection to the inhumane treatment of monkeys.
The impetus for the demonstration arose from revelations brought to light by PETA Asia investigations. According to PETA, disturbing footage exposed the cruel practices employed in Thailand’s coconut-picking industry, where monkeys are subjected to chains, beatings, and other forms of abuse to coerce them into harvesting coconuts.
Fernandez, alongside fellow PETA supporters, donned monkey masks and prisoner garb, symbolizing the plight of these mistreated animals.
Dumping wheelbarrows filled with coconuts verified to have been humanely picked, the protesters sought to underscore the distinction between ethically sourced products and those associated with animal exploitation.
“Whole Foods, stop abusing monkeys!” They chanted while holding signs and occupied check-out counters for over an hour, amplifying their message to the store management and customers.
Following the demonstration, Fernandez and five others were arrested and charged with unlawful entry.
She warned Whole Foods and other establishments involved in the sale of coconut milk tied to forced monkey labor to brace themselves for further actions and public outcry orchestrated by PETA.
According to PETA, the Thai coconut industry snatches the monkeys from their natural habitats as infants and subjects them to harsh training.
Handlers restrain them with metal collars and leashes, sometimes even removing their canine teeth to render them defenseless. Video evidence demonstrates trainers striking and whipping the monkeys and dangling them by their necks.
One of the major concerns highlighted by activists is the lack of transparency surrounding the origin of coconut milk from Thailand. The industry and the Thai government have persistently concealed the systemic reliance on monkey labor, deceiving consumers. Consequently, it becomes virtually impossible to guarantee that any coconut milk sourced from Thailand is cruelty-free, according to PETA.
Fernandez, who does volunteer work with different animal rescues, including Florida Animal Rescue Alliance and Pawsitive Beginnings, said, “The day I spent in jail is nothing compared to the lifetime that chained monkeys spend picking coconuts.”
- Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.
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