PHOTOS: Cockfighters reap Year of Rooster bonus in Thailand

Prized birds faced off in front of thousands of spectators at a stadium on the outskirts of Bangkok yesterday as celebrations for the Year of the Rooster brought a windfall for some.

Although cockfighting is banned in many countries on grounds of animal cruelty, it is a lucrative business in Thailand as well as a popular pastime. Sunday’s top bird sold for over USD70,000 (THB2.47 million).

“This year is a very good year for us. It’s the year of the golden rooster. The value of the roosters has gone up,” said Banchej Changyai, 55, who was running the contest south of Bangkok on the second day of celebrations for the Lunar New Year.

Each fight involves two roosters facing off in a pit. They lurch at each other, inflicting damage with beaks and wings.

Each round is 22 minutes long, and there can be up to six rounds depending on the roosters’ endurance.

“Today, the rooster brought me a lot of money. I love cockfighting, it’s a hobby of mine,” said Narongsak Sealee, 22, after winning THB500,000 at the Thedthai cockfighting stadium in Samut Prakan province.

Unlike in many countries, the Thai cocks do not fight to the death. Instead, the first bird to cower away loses.    

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