For Immediate Release:
June 16, 2023
Sara Groves 202-483-7382
Waterville, Maine – Twenty-six-year-old Waterville resident Celeste Esser is home after being arrested during a sit-in at a Whole Foods store in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday—which led to the store’s closing—over the company’s sale of Thai coconut milk. PETA Asia investigations have revealed that monkeys in Thailand are chained and beaten in order to force them to pick coconuts. Esser joined other PETA supporters wearing monkey masks and prisoner garb in dumping wheelbarrows full of humanely picked coconuts outside the store before heading inside with posters, sitting on top of check-out counters, and chanting, “Whole Foods, stop abusing monkeys!” for over an hour. She and five other “monkeys” were arrested and charged with unlawful entry.
“The day I spent in jail is nothing compared to the lifetime that chained monkeys spend picking coconuts,” says Esser. “If Whole Foods continues to stock coconut milk tied to forced monkey labor, it can expect pressure from PETA and more public outrage.”
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 their systemic reliance on monkey labor in an attempt to deceive consumers, it’s impossible to guarantee that any coconut milk from Thailand is cruelty-free.
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 PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.