Watch the Marines handle tarantulas and snakes to prepare for combat in the jungle


  • Thai and US Marines encountered deadly wild creatures during survival training in Thailand.

  • Exercise Cobra Gold showcased the skills to the Marines to help them cope with the harsh jungle environment.

  • Animal rights activists have criticized past practices that involved Marines drinking cobra blood.

US Marines came face-to-face with the jungle’s terror during a survival training exercise in Thailand last month.

The training was part of a major annual US-Thai exercise called Exercise Cobra Gold, which aims to strengthen “cooperation to promote regional stability” in the Indo-Pacific.

The longest military operation in the world

Royal Thai Marine instructors discuss poisonous vines with US Marines in a jungle survival demonstration

Royal Thai Marine instructors discuss poison ivy with US Marines during a jungle survival exercise at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi Province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

First launched in 1982, Cobra Gold is the world’s longest-running military force.

“Cobra Gold provides a platform to update our strategies, test our readiness, and develop the relationships that are the foundation of international cooperation,” Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commander of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said at the opening ceremony.

“It is a great privilege to be part of a strong global military community committed to advancing our shared goals and security in the Indo-Pacific.”

The biggest exercise in mainland Asia

A Royal Thai Marine instructor shows off the teeth of a smoke spiderA Royal Thai Marine instructor shows off the teeth of a smoke spider

A Royal Thai Marine instructor demonstrates the whisper of a venomous spider during a jungle survival demonstration during Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi Province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

Since its inception, Cobra Gold has expanded to include more than a dozen other countries, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, making it the largest sports club in Asia.

More than 9,000 soldiers from 30 countries – half of them from the US military – took part. a two-week multi-national war gamewhich started from the end of February to the beginning of March.

Getting to know plants and animals

A Royal Thai Marine instructor has a gecko A Royal Thai Marine instructor has a gecko

A Royal Thai Marine instructor captures a gecko during a jungle survival demonstration during Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi Province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

US Marines participated in the Cobra Gold survival training, where he learned the dangers of the jungle and how to live a simple life. The training was held in Sattahip in the Chonburi province of Thailand – about 80 miles from Bangkok.

The instructors also pointed out the various dangerous spiders and venomous snakes they encounter in the forest. During the training, Marines handled tarantulas and saw deadly cockroaches and snakes.

Survival skills

A US Navy SEAL tries to start a fire from bambooA US Navy SEAL tries to start a fire from bamboo

A U.S. Marine who serves as an independent pilot tries to start a fire from bamboo during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

Royal Thai Marine instructors taught the Marines skills such as how to start a fire with bamboo and how to find other food and water in the field.

More than just exercise

A US Marine has a snake in his handA US Marine has a snake in his hand

A US soldier handles a snake during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi Province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

The training consists of command and control systems, humanitarian services, and field training activities, including Marine survival training.

But Brunson said Cobra Gold’s mission goes beyond the technology that people get involved in the war.

“Cobra Gold is more than just a war,” Brunson said. “It is an example of decades of lasting cooperation that binds our countries together. As we teach and learn from each other, we compare the strengths that come from cooperation, shared goals, and commitment to regional stability.”

Cobra blood feud

A Royal Thai Marine instructor shows off the teeth of a White-lipped ViperA Royal Thai Marine instructor shows off the teeth of a White-lipped Viper

A Royal Thai Marine instructor displays the teeth of a White-Lipped Pit Viper during a jungle survival demonstration during Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi Province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

Although Cobra Gold has made history through its time and participation, the event is best known for its amazing traditions. Marines drank the blood of decapitated snakes and eating small insects and reptiles.

Former Marine Corps Command Sgt. Isaac Ibarra, who was then a corporal, attended the Cobra Gold survival training in 2015. He described in detail what happened to him in his story, seeing his fellow Marines eating spiders and scorpions “as if it were a daily meal.”

Ibarra described a Royal Thai Marine holding a cobra while a US Marine used a machete to cut off the snake’s head.

“The anticipation was palpable. Quickly, the US Marines gathered and knelt down as the Royal Thai Marine lifted the headless snake,” he wrote. “I knew this was a tradition for all Cobra Gold events, so I put my camera aside, knelt down, and waited my turn.”

“The blood of the lion was too much for me,” continued Ibarra. “It was thick but not tasty.”

Where the act provided some crazy picturesthe methods were taught as a way for the Marines to get food from land, using scorpions, bugs and geckos as a source of food and cobra blood for hydration.

‘Frat party gone wrong’

A spider walks on the face of a US MarineA spider walks on the face of a US Marine

A spider walks across the face of a US Marine during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi Province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

Another way to get food and water was met with controversy in 2020 later animal rights activists condemned the practicecalling it a “frat-party-gone-wrong show.”

“Education on how to survive without animals in the wild is something that Boys or Girls can learn without having to attend a cruel, carnival-like, murderous show,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said. in words at that time.

Water treatment methods

A Royal Thai Marine instructor squeezes water from a seed into a Marine's mouthA Royal Thai Marine instructor squeezes water from a seed into a Marine's mouth

A Royal Thai Marine instructor squeezes water from a market during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

PETA encouraged the Marines to find vegan survival options and end the practice, which officially ended in the 2021 iteration of the following training and events.

This year, Marines were seen drinking from banana leaves and other plants to get food.

Read the first article Business Insider



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