News & Politics

PETA Asks Marines to Stop Drinking Cobra Blood

The animal rights group will protest outside the Pentagon tomorrow.

Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai feeds cobra blood to US Marine Corps Sergeant Jerry Clark in 2013. (US Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Matthew Troyer/Released)

PETA will host a protest outside of the Pentagon Thursday, according to a press release. Its request? The animal-rights group wants the Department of Defense to tell Marines to stop drinking cobra blood.

Well, let’s get a little more precise here: Each year, the US and Thailand co-host Cobra Gold, a multinational joint military exercise. As part of the event, which is hosted in Thailand, Marines and soldiers undergo jungle survival training. And part of this survival training can include, yes, military members decapitating cobras and drinking their blood (among eating other jungle critters).

In February, PETA filed a petition asking the DoD to end the killing of live animals during the exercise. “During Cobra Gold, Marines and training instructors in Thailand kill chickens with their bare hands, skin and eat live geckos, consume live scorpions and tarantulas, and decapitate king cobras—a species vulnerable to extinction,” reads the petition. “Viable animal-free methods exist for this practice, which is both unnecessary to the survival of troops and that inflicts unjustified pain and suffering on animals.” The petition also suggests that such practices could lead to zoonotic diseases similar to Covid.

Because of the pandemic, this year’s Cobra Gold exercise has been delayed from the spring to the fall. That means there’s still time for PETA to save the jungle animals. The activist group will begin protesting outside the Pentagon tomorrow at 12 PM, where—according to the press release–the group will carry huge photos of Marines drinking snake blood.

At the time of publication, the Marine Corps had not responded to a request for comment.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.