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Walmart stops sales of coconut milk brand tied to monkey labor claims

This photo taken on July 9, 2020 shows a macaque monkey preparing to climb a palm tree to dislodge coconuts for a man to collect them in Berapea village near Narathiwat in southern Thailand. - Animal rights campaigner PETA released videos in early July of monkey "slaves" picking coconuts in Thailand, which has led several British retailers to ban the products. Thai coconut farmers have denied mistreating the macaques. (Photo by Madaree TOHLALA / AFP) (Photo by MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP via Getty Images)

(WXIN) — Walmart has become the latest retailer to pull a brand of coconut milk linked to an investigation by People for the Ethical Treatments of Animals into claims of forced monkey labor.

The retailer has joined Kroger, Target, Costco, and Walgreens in discontinuing sales of Chaokoh coconut milk, USA TODAY reported.

The Thailand-based company was the subject of a PETA Asia investigation in 2019 that alleged monkeys were abused, chained, and forced to pick coconuts.

“Denied the freedom to move around, socialize with others, or do anything else that is important to them, these intelligent animals slowly lose their minds. Driven to desperation, they pace and circle endlessly on the barren, trash-strewn patches of dirt where they’re chained,” wrote PETA.

According to PETA, Walmart’s decision to drop the Chaokoh brand from stores and online comes after it received more than 86,000 emails from PETA supporters.

Animal rights activists, wearing monkey masks and dressed as prison inmates, demonstrate outside the Thai embassy in Jakarta on December 8, 2020, against what they claim is the exploitation of primates as labor in Thailand’s coconut industry. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP) (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images)

Last summer, a representative from Theppadungporn Coconut Co. told Reuters that documents would be provided showing the animals were not used in production.

USA TODAY reported that the company contracted an audit in which investigators randomly visited 64 of its 817 farms and found no monkeys were being used to pick coconuts.

“PETA claims another investigation proved the audit was ‘misleading and inadequate’ and companies and consumers were being lied (to) about the use of monkeys,” according to USA TODAY.

In a statement, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman praised Walmart’s action.

“With one PETA exposé after another confirming cruelty on coconut farms, retailers are dropping Chaokoh left and right. Kudos to Walmart for its kind decision,” said Reiman.

PETA says more than 45,000 stores have stopped selling Chaokoh’s coconut milk since its 2019 investigation. It’s now calling for more companies to drop the brand, including 99 Ranch Market.