Hundreds of Calves Stranded at Sea for Months Ahead of Being Killed

Posted by on March 11, 2021 | Permalink

Imagine you’re standing in your own faeces and urine, petrified, and sandwiched tightly between hundreds of other individuals for months on a hot, dark ship. You’re confused and desperate to get out, but you can’t – someone is keeping you there, and you have absolutely no control over the situation.

One second of this claustrophobic, filthy nightmare is a second too many for any of us, and 864 calves, just 7 to 8 months old, have been living like this since mid-December. They have been stranded at sea on a ship that was meant to take them from Spain to Turkey to be fattened and, eventually, slaughtered. But because of a suspected disease outbreak, the calves were rejected and subsequently held hostage – living in squalor – as the ship criss-crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Libya, to Italy, and back to Spain, looking for a buyer to turn a profit on their misery.

There were a total of 895 calves on board when the journey from Spain began, but 22 of them died at sea and nine more are unaccounted for. Most of the bodies of those who died were cut into pieces and thrown into the water, though two corpses were still on board upon inspection last week. The ship is now docked back in the Spanish port of Cartagena.

According to a recent report by Spanish officials, the animals are in such poor health – suffering from skin, eye, and leg conditions because of their horrific ordeal – that they now recommend the calves be taken off the ship and killed. This is the devastating fate of countless animals subjected to not only the horrors of the meat industry but also the prolonged suffering of live export.

What Is Live-Animal Export?

Millions of animals like cows, pigs, and sheep – including babies and pregnant females – are transported across hundreds or even thousands of miles to be killed or fattened for slaughter every year. The conditions are filthy and dangerous. The animals are forced to endure the journey in all weather extremes and to stand in their own waste, causing distress, injuries, and disease.

The story of these calves is not unique – this is what life looks like for many millions of animals who are sent thousands of miles over land and sea to be killed every year. Like these calves, other animals may be in transit for days or weeks, often without sufficient food, water, or rest. Many are trampled to death in horrendously crowded lorries, die from exposure, or simply starve.

The rules on live export are commonly broken. A report by the European Commission recently outlined the many ways animals are being failed: they often have to endure excessively long journeys and severe crowding and may be left waiting in lorries at ports for hours and hours without being unloaded. In addition to routine suffering, long-distance live export can result in fires and ships may sink, causing the suffering and deaths of large numbers of animals.

In November 2019, a ship transporting 14,600 sheep capsized shortly after leaving port. Following many days of rescue attempts, only 180 sheep survived the disaster.


And – as if the cruelty to animals weren’t enough – transporting live animals across thousands of miles in cramped, filthy conditions is also a major cause of the spread of zoonotic diseases – from foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza to SARS – around the globe. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic halted global travel for humans, the shameful trade in other animals between countries continues – posing a danger to all of us. PETA is calling on governments to ban live export and prevent any more animals from suffering for months as the calves on the Karim Allah have.

What You Can Do

If we want to make sure animals won’t be forced to endure these horrific journeys to slaughter – or any of the other abuse inflicted upon animals by the meat industry worldwide – we can make a big difference in their lives by going vegan:

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice has revealed plans to ban the export of live animals as the government moves to strengthen UK animal protection laws following Brexit. PETA has completed the government’s recent consultation on live export, calling for a complete and permanent ban on this cruel industry to end the suffering of live animals exported from the UK. Send the secretary a message to remind him that animals can’t wait any longer:

Demand the Government Ban Live-Animal Export!

Jo-Anne McArthur / Eyes On Animals

And don’t forget cows and other animals from Ireland. Contact Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to let him know that live export is incompatible with animal welfare and must be stopped: