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Flu Fears Threaten Thai Cockfighting Tradition

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Flu Fears Threaten Thai Cockfighting Tradition

Flu Fears Threaten Thai Cockfighting Tradition

Flu Fears Threaten Thai Cockfighting Tradition

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4508912/4509656" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Thai cock trainer Su Chin says new government rules that make it harder for roosters to travel for matches have hurt his ability to make a profit, because birds only rise in value if they win important matches. Jon Hamilton, NPR hide caption

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Jon Hamilton, NPR

This month marked the start of the Year of the Rooster, but in Thailand, where fighting cocks are considered a national treasure, the rooster has become an embattled creature.

Strictures put into place by the Thai government to stop the spread of bird flu have imperiled the future of cockfighting, a pastime that many Thais consider an integral part of rural life.

Thai officials say they're trying to protect people. So far, only a few humans have been infected — including at least one owner of a fighting cock. But each new infection increases the chance that bird flu will jump from chickens to humans. Disease experts say that could start a flu pandemic that would kill millions of people around the world.

Se Leong (right) spars with Du in a cockfight. Each bird's heel spurs are covered with leather gloves to prevent serious injury. Mandhana Bijaisoradat for NPR hide caption

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Mandhana Bijaisoradat for NPR