For Immediate Release:
July 22, 2021
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Washington – With Cobra Gold—the annual multinational military exercises in Thailand that historically include a frat-like animal-killing party masquerading as U.S. Marine training—now underway, service members have joined PETA’s effort to end the drill. In a letter sent today to Secretary of Defense Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the veterans demand an end to Cobra Gold’s use of live animals, stating the following:
Troops deserve the best training to survive in the outdoors, but Cobra Gold’s use of live animals resembles a vulgar hazing ritual and doesn’t deliver any practical survival skills. Rather, as the U.S. Marine Corps has admitted, the main objective of the activity has been to build camaraderie …. This goal could easily be achieved through other means that don’t harm or kill animals. We urge you to end Cobra Gold’s deadly, dishonorable, and dangerous use of live animals.
During Cobra Gold 2020, U.S. Marines and instructors 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. The service members’ letter states that these acts dishonor the military and pose a zoonotic disease threat akin to COVID-19.
“Tearing open geckos, gnawing on scorpions, and drinking cobras’ blood is a vulgar hazing ritual, not a way to train service members,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on the secretary of defense to end this deadly, dishonorable, and dangerous waste of animal lives and military resources.”
PETA notes that the Cobra Gold drill also endangers king cobras (a species vulnerable to extinction), risks the transmission of zoonotic diseases, and violates the Department of Defense’s policy to use available non-animal methods. In prior years, the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center and the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground both canceled survival skills training courses using animals following PETA appeals.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org; follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram; or click here.