Seoul, Mar 5 (efe-epa).- Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) held a performance protest in front of the Thai embassy in Seoul on Friday against what it says is “cruelty” to monkeys made to work in the Southeast Asian country’s coconut industry.
A PETA member dressed as a monkey overturned a wheelbarrow full of coconuts in front of the premises in the South Korean capital, and later displayed a poster with the message “Thailand: Stop coconut industry monkey abuse” in Korean and English.
In Thailand, the world’s ninth largest producer and third largest exporter of coconuts, many farms train macaques that have been captured in the jungle to climb palm trees to collect the fruit.
PETA investigated several farms and discovered “cruelty” at all of them, it said, claiming that macaques live in cages and shackles when not being forced to work.
“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 organization said in a statement.
“Many monkeys displayed repetitive behavior indicative of extreme psychological anguish, including one who chewed on his own limbs,” the text adds.
“One coconut farmer confirmed that when monkeys are terrified and try to defend themselves, their canine teeth may be pulled out.”
The images recorded by PETA during the investigation attest to the conditions in which these animals live.
“I think that PETA concentrates on (South) Korea because the vegan population and the animal rights movement is soaring recently in Korea,” PETA spokesman Kim Yong-hwa told EFE in front of the Thai embassy.
“Today’s performance is our expression of solidarity with monkeys and animal rights activists all over the world,” added Kim, underscoring the growing popularity of coconut milk among the vegan community, whose members in many cases, she says, are unaware of the situation behind the product.
Kim urged retailers and consumers in South Korea to avoid products from the Chaokoh company and other brands that use coconuts grown in Thailand, where she says these practices are widespread. EFE-EPA