Jungles are full of fruits and other nutritious, edible plants—so why are military personnel from countries around the world beheading snakes, guzzling their blood, and calling it survival “training”?
This is what goes on in the Thai wilderness at the annual joint military exercise known as Cobra Gold. This morning PETA sent urgent letters to officials from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and several other countries, urging them not to exploit animals for “survival training” again.
In our letters, we point out the cruelty of this practice and the danger that it poses to troops. The COVID-19 pandemic can almost certainly be traced back to human interaction with wildlife sold for consumption, and other diseases—including AIDS, SARS, and Ebola—originated because of human slaughter of wildlife. The Cobra Gold exercises also endanger the king cobra, who is vulnerable to extinction. We also noted various military facilities that have suspended the use of live animals in survival training courses after prior discussions with PETA U.S.
During Cobra Gold 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 reveling in the ritualistic killing and consumption of animals.
According to reports, Cobra Gold attendees were also trained to use jungle vines as a water source and to recognize edible plants. Clearly, there are precedents for troops to learn food procurement survival skills without having to use live animals in abhorrent training drills. They should have stuck to this kind of humane “how to live off the land” training.
The next Cobra Gold training – which is marketed as a food procurement drill but which officials have admitted is intended to build camaraderie among troops – has reportedly been delayed until August because of COVID-19 concerns.