Photos/Video: Protesters Arrested, Close Down DC Whole Foods Over Forced Monkey Labor

For Immediate Release:
June 14, 2023

Sara Groves 202-483-7382

Washington – Today, PETA members wearing prisoner costumes and monkey masks were arrested inside a Whole Foods store in Washington, D.C. while holding a sit-in to protest the company’s sale of coconut milk from Thailand, including through its own 365 by Whole Foods Market brand. PETA Asia investigations have revealed that monkeys in that country are caged, kept in isolation, chained for life, and trained via fear of punishment to pick coconuts. The group—one man and five women—joined more than 20 other protesters. They dumped wheelbarrows full of humanely picked coconuts before moving inside and sitting on top of checkout counters, holding posters and chanting, “Whole Foods Stop Abusing Monkeys,” for more than an hour before being handcuffed by police officers and carried out of the store. Each was charged with unlawful entry. Following the protest, the store was closed for the rest of the day.

Video footage is available here, and photos are available here.

A copy of PETA’s news release is below.

‘Monkey Business’ at Whole Foods Has PETA Dumping Coconuts at Store

What: Because Whole Foods is selling coconut milk from Thailand—including through its    own 365 by Whole Foods Market brand—even though PETA Asia investigations have revealed that monkeys in that country are caged, kept in isolation, chained for life, and trained through fear of punishment to pick coconuts, PETA “monkeys” will dump wheelbarrows full of humanely picked coconuts outside Whole Foods’ P Street store as part of a new international campaign against the company. The action follows PETA’s successful campaign against HelloFresh, which will no longer obtain coconut milk from Thailand.

Many monkeys used in Thailand’s coconut-picking industry are abducted from their forest homes as babies. Handlers put metal collars and leashes on them and sometimes remove their canine teeth so they can’t defend themselves. PETA Asia’s investigative footage shows trainers striking them, dangling them by their necks, and whipping them. Because the industry and the Thai government lie about and deceive consumers about their systemic reliance on monkey labor, it’s impossible to guarantee that any coconut milk from Thailand is cruelty-free.

“Whole Foods knows that Thailand’s forced monkey labor is a damnable business, yet it’s profiting off these suffering primates by obtaining coconut milk from that country,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on Whole Foods to take a whole lot of cruelty off its shelves by selling canned coconut milk only from countries like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, where monkey labor isn’t used.”

Where:    Outside Whole Foods, 1440 P St. N.W., Washington

When:     Wednesday, June 14, 12 noon

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.

For more information, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind