Imagine standing in your feces and urine, petrified and tightly sandwiched between hundreds of other people for months on a hot dark ship. You are confused and desperate to get out, but you cannot – someone is holding you there and you have absolutely no control over the situation.
One second of this terrible claustrophobic nightmare is too much for any of us, and since mid-December, 864 calves have been living like this, aged 7 to 8 months. They ended up at sea on a ship that was supposed to take them from Spain to Turkey to feed and eventually be killed. But due to the alleged outbreak, the calves were rejected and subsequently taken hostage, living in poverty as the ship crossed the Mediterranean from Turkey to Libya, Italy and back to Spain in search of a buyer who could turn cash in on their misfortunes.
When the voyage began from Spain, there were 895 calves aboard the ship, but 22 of them died at sea and nine more were missing. Most of the dead were cut into pieces and thrown into the water, although two were still on board when examined last week. The ship is moored in the Spanish port of Cartagena.
According to a recent report by Spanish officials, the animals are so ill – suffering from skin, eye and leg diseases due to horrific ordeals – that they are now recommending that the calves be removed from the ship and killed. It is the gruesome fate of countless animals that have been subjected not only to the horrors of the meat industry, but also to the prolonged suffering of live exports.
What is the export of live animals?
Every year, millions of animals such as cows, pigs and sheep, including babies and pregnant females, are transported hundreds or even thousands of miles, where they are killed or fattened for slaughter. The conditions are dirty and dangerous. Animals are forced to endure travel in any weather and stand in their own litter, causing suffering, injury and illness.
The history of these calves is not unique – this is how the lives of many millions of animals look like, which are sent to death every year thousands of miles above land and sea. Like these calves, other animals can travel for days or weeks, often without enough food, water, or rest. Many have been trampled to death in horribly overcrowded trucks, die of hypothermia, or simply starve to death.
Live video export rules are usually violated. A recent report from the European Commission describes the many reasons why animals are defeated: they often have to endure excessively long journeys and tight crowds, and can wait for hours in trucks at ports without unloading. In addition to the usual suffering, transporting live animals over long distances can lead to fires and the sinking of ships, resulting in the suffering and death of large numbers of animals.
In November 2019, a ship carrying 14,600 sheep capsized shortly after leaving port. After many days of rescue attempts, only 180 sheep survived.
Video footage of a capsized ship in Romania with 14,000 sheep on board. This is the reality of live exports. Do you want to support this? Then stop eating meat. pic.twitter.com/1bECx8HOgC
– Ari Solomon (@VeganAri) November 25, 2019
And – as if animal cruelty weren’t enough – transporting live animals thousands of miles in cramped and muddy conditions is also a major contributor to the spread of zoonotic diseases – from foot and mouth disease and bird flu to SARS – around the world. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has halted global human travel, the infamous trade in other animals between countries continues, posing a threat to all of us. PETA calls on governments to ban the export of live animals and prevent animal suffering for months like the calves on Karim Allah.
What can you do
If we want to make sure that animals don’t have to endure these horrific slaughter trips – or any other animal cruelty experienced by the meat industry around the world – we can make a big difference in their lives by becoming vegans:
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustis has announced plans to ban the export of live animals as the government tries to strengthen UK animal welfare laws after Brexit. PETA has concluded recent government consultations on the export of live animals, calling for a complete and permanent ban on this brutal industry to end the suffering of live animals exported from the UK. Send the secretary a message to remind him that the animals can no longer wait:
And don’t forget the cows and other animals from Ireland. Contact the Irish Minister of Agriculture, Food and Navigation to advise him that the export of live animals is incompatible with animal welfare and should be stopped: