Abused monkeys used for coconut picking
Written by Arjen Schroevers.
I hope you will take a moment to read the following story. A lot of wrong information is distributed, whether or not deliberately.
My name is Arjen Schroevers, I was born in Amsterdam in 1965. I have lived in Thailand for almost twenty years now, and am married to Somjai Saekhow. Somjai Saekhow is one of the two daughters of Somporn Saekhow, one of the most famous monkey trainers in Thailand. One of his monkeys is so well known (Kai Nui) that when Thai speak of monkeys in general they often use the name “Kai Nui”. So just like many people call an “adjustable wrench” an “Bahco”.
When my father-in-law started training, he knew little about monkeys. He did find that many other trainers trained the monkeys with too much force. He has developed a training method (in 1955 !!) that works completely without penalties. If the monkey does something wrong, the wrong behaviour is ignored. That is sometimes difficult because a mistake is often funny, but laughing is also a reward. If the monkey does something right, the good will be rewarded until the trainer becomes almost nauseous from himself. Almost never the reward is food, but mostly friendly words, hugs, “fleaing”. My father-in-law’s daughter, my wife, continued the school after Somporn died. I occasionally talk about “we”, but I don’t run the school, I don’t own it, and I don’t work there. I only live there.
We do a lot of information. The relationship between Thai and animals is often quite difficult. We are open to visitors. People can see with us how a monkey is trained and what steps a monkey must go through to become an accomplished coconut picker. We give a demonstration, not a show !! With us you don’t see monkeys cycling, playing guitar or dancing. And they don’t even wear funny clothes. Most of our visitors are Thai. Our school is known as the best and most animal-friendly training institute in Thailand. We are therefore not a “monkey school” but we are the “Monkey Training College”. We request access fees from visitors, however Thai schools can visit us free of charge. My father-in-law already did, and we will continue to do so, because it is important information.
Now briefly about PETA. PETA is a militant vegan organization. Especially in their early days they used violence quite regularly to achieve their goal. Their goal is to stop all interaction between humans and animals. You read it correctly ALL. PETA sees human possession of animals as animal cruelty. So yes, your cat, your dog, your fish tank with fish, your rabbit in his cage, and even the bird that you raised as a fallen youngster has to go back to nature. That bird does not want to be with you…. And of course they are strongly against keeping animals commercially.
However, PETA has developed extremely well. They have a beautiful website, very good PR. They can hardly be caught in violence anymore. They no longer challenge things that the general public might find “nonsense”. But they search continuously. And they are overjoyed when they find things that can get the general public moving. PETA doesn’t mind at all when they find abused animals. As long as they can share that with the general public it makes them very happy.