Spanish calves stuck at sea for three months, no EU country is helping

Male calves on the Elbeik, screenshot from video shared by Animal Welfare Foundation
Male calves on the Elbeik, screenshot from video shared by Animal Welfare Foundation

Around 1800 Spanish male calves have been stuck on the ship Elbeik for almost three months. The animals have not been allowed to leave the ship at European ports and haven’t received any veterinary care.

Eighty calves have died on the ship, because they’ve been on sea for too long, Maria Boada-Saña, veterinarian at the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), tells The Animal Reader.

These ships that transport animals from one country to another are not meant to have animals on board for such a long time.

The Elbeik left Spain at the beginning of December heading for Libya, but because Libya thought the Spanish calves had bluetongue disease, the ship was not allowed to ‘unload’ the animals.

Since then, the Elbeik has been at sea. They’ve tried entering Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, but were denied access. The 1770 calves and crew members have been at sea for too long now and they need help as they’re running out of food.

The Elbeik wants the Spanish authorities to take responsibility for these Spanish animals and to support them in finding a solution, Boada-Saña says.

Male calves from Karim Allah are all dead
Another ship that also left Spain in December and couldn’t ‘unload’ their calves at their destination, the Karim Allah, decided to return to the port of Cartagena at the end of February.

After inspecting the animals, Spanish authorities said that the 850 young male calves look so bad they couldn’t be transported anymore and had to be euthanized immediately.

Last Saturday, they started killing the young cows, and by Tuesday, all the animals had been euthanized, Boada-Saña says. She explains that the costs for euthanizing the animals, more than one million euros, are for Karim Allah’s owner Talia Shipping Line.

Elbeik changed direction
The Elbeik was trying to enter Greece, but last Friday, Greek authorities asked the ship to leave their waters without loading food for the animals and crew members, Boada-Saña says.

After pressure from animal welfare organizations, Greece allowed the ship to load food but didn’t allow veterinarians to check on the animals, she continues.

The Elbeik was on their way to the port of Cartagena, but after hearing that the animals from the Karim Allah were all killed, they changed their direction.

“The problem is the Elbeik does not want to go back to Spain cause they know that if they go back to Spain, probably all the animals will be euthanized. Like it happened with the animals of Karim Allah,” Boada-Saña says.

What the Elbeik is trying to do now, is to test these animals to proof that they don’t have bluetongue disease, she explains.

It’s not clear what will happen to the animals now. Most likely, all the European ports will do the same as Greece; they will not allow the vessel to enter to pressure the Elbeik to go back to Spain.

No happy ending for the baby cows
It will be very interesting to see what the Elbeik will do now, Boada-Saña says, and if other European member countries will allow the ship to enter or not.

While the Elbeik, Spain and the EU are pointing fingers and ‘discussing’, these Spanish/EU cows are suffering.

And when the young cows will finally get to ‘stretch’ their legs and feel freedom at any port that will allow them to enter, they will probably be instantly killed and not send to an animal sanctuary.

In the discussion of who will pay for their death, the Elbeik, Spain or the EU, the absolute biggest losers are these male calves, with no prospect of any kind of happy ending.

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