by Oleg Burunov
The Cobra Gold exercises were first conducted in Thailand in 1982 to improve ties between the American and Thai armed forces. The drills currently involve servicemen from 29 countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea.
Snake blood drinking has been scrapped from the programme of the multinational military exercises held in Thailand on an annual basis, in a move that was prompted by activists from the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
They did not think twice before protesting outside the Pentagon in Washington, contacting the US Marine Corps, and even sending a letter to Thailand’s prime minister after learning about the snake blood drinking ritual during the drills in 2020.
“These sorts of training doesn’t actually deliver any survival skills. In fact, the US Marine Corps has admitted that the primary goal of this training is to attempt to build friendship between the two countries”, spokesperson for PETA Asia Nirali Shah underscored.
She insisted that there are many other ways to build up military brotherhood without taking animals’ lives.
According to the PETA activists, they learned about the cancellation of the snake blood drinking exercise from Amnuay Kerdkaew, the director of joint operations of the Royal Thai Air Force.
It appears that fuel added to the activists’ fire was 2018 footage of soldiers giving their thoughts on how it feels to drink the blood of a decapitated cobra. “Fishy, it tastes like fish. It’s interesting”, one smiling participant is seen saying in the video.
Apart from drinking snake blood, US Marines also ate live geckos and scorpions, as well as tarantulas, scorpions, and bugs during the field training sessions of the drills, which were first held in Thailand in the early 1980s to bolster relations between Washington and Bangkok.