Big Step: Cobra Gold Military Training Spares Animals in 2021

Posted on by PETA Australia

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

Image shows troops at 2020 Cobra Gold drill

The good news came after an intense campaign in which PETA, our international affiliates, and thousands of supporters helped put pressure on the Cobra Gold organisers to end training exercises that involved participants beheading snakes, killing chickens with their bare hands, eating live scorpions, and gutting live geckos.

Earlier this year, PETA urged the Australian Secretary of the Department of Defence Greg Moriarty 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’s Happening During Cobra Gold?

Every August, thousands of military personnel from around the world – including Australia – travel to Thailand 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.

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

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

What About the Risk of Zoonotic Diseases?

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

The use of live animals during Cobra Gold poses a risk of spreading zoonotic diseases akin to SARS-CoV-2, endangering troops and the wider public. Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 likely originate in bats and are first transmitted to humans via contact with an intermediate animal host.

What’s Next?

Animals are not ours to be tormented and killed in military exercises. This should be the end of this “frat party gone wrong” spectacle in Thailand, and PETA will be watching to ensure that it is.