Great News! No Animals Killed in 2021 Cobra Gold Exercise

Posted by on August 16, 2021 | Permalink

Update: 14 February 2022

PETA US has received confirmation that no animals will be killed in Cobra Gold 2022, a joint international survival training exercise held in Thailand and attended by the US military. The statement from the group is below:

The barbaric killing of animals during the Cobra Gold military exercise in Thailand has been nixed for the second year in a row, a top official has confirmed to PETA US. Forcing military troops to kill chickens with their bare hands, skin and eat live geckos, consume live scorpions and tarantulas, and decapitate cobras and drink their blood was cruel, dangerous, and likely illegal.

These atrocities were halted in 2021 after an intense campaign, during which PETA entities and thousands of supporters helped put pressure on Cobra Gold organisers. We thank the military officials who chose to distance themselves from dangerous Jackass-style antics.

PETA UK hopes this good news signals that Cobra Gold training drills will remain cruelty-free. We’ll be monitoring the situation closely to ensure that they do.

Original Post: 16 August 2021

Not a single animal was killed in survival training drills during Cobra Gold 2021, a massive multinational military exercise held in Thailand.

The good news comes after an intense campaign in which PETA, our international affiliates, and thousands of supporters helped put pressure on the Cobra Gold organisers to stop gruesome training in which troops previously beheaded snakes, killed chickens with their bare hands, ate live scorpions, and gutted live geckos.

Earlier this year, PETA urged the secretary of state for defence, Ben Wallace, to demand that the organisers permanently replace the use of live animals in food procurement survival exercises with more effective and ethical animal-free training methods.

Thank you to everyone who took action to stop this gruesome practice.

What Was Happening During Cobra Gold?

Thousands of military personnel from around the world travel to Thailand in August each year for the Cobra Gold joint military exercises.

In 2020, participants were recorded killing chickens with their bare hands, skinning and eating live geckos, consuming live scorpions and tarantulas, decapitating cobras and drinking their blood, and otherwise revelling in the ritualistic killing and consumption of animals.

Military Troops Drinking Snake Blood

What’s the Point of Beheading Snakes for Military Exercises?

While the training exercise is marketed as a food procurement drill, officials have admitted it’s intended to build camaraderie among troops in a manner resembling a barbaric hazing ritual. This goal could easily and safely be achieved through other means that don’t involve causing animals to suffer and die.

What About Zoonotic Disease Risks?

Shipping military personnel to Thailand to drink the blood of beheaded snakes is the kind of absurdity that could spark the next pandemic.

Zoonotic diseases originate in other animals and transfer to humans, like SARS-CoV-2 – the pathogen behind COVID-19 – which likely originated in bats and was first transmitted to humans via contact with an intermediate animal host.

The use of live animals during Cobra Gold, therefore, poses a risk of spreading zoonotic diseases – endangering troops and the wider public.

What’s Next?

This should be the end of this stag-do-gone-wrong spectacle in Thailand. PETA will be watching to ensure that that’s the case.

Animals are not ours to torment and kill in military exercises. Will you help stop another barbaric practice? Urge the Danish military to stop killing pigs in trauma training.