Spain knew the calves on Karim Allah and Elbeik would be rejected, but let them suffer anyways

Spanish calves on board of Karim Allah, photo: Tallia Shipping Line/Reuters
Spanish calves on board of Karim Allah, photo: Tallia Shipping Line/Reuters

“We would like to inform you that the animals in the said shipment cannot be accepted by our country,” a Turkish veterinarian mailed the Spanish authorities on the 21st of December about the Spanish male calves on the ship Karim Allah who were on their way to Turkey.

The ships Karim Allah and Elbeik had left Spain three days before on the 18th of December with in total almost 2600 Spanish male calves on board. Spain should have asked the ships to return after receiving the mail that the animals would not be accepted.

The mail was made public by the animal protection lobby group Eurogroup for Animals.

But instead of calling the ships back, Spain let them leave European waters, causing the animals on Karim Allah to suffer for two months at sea and the Elbeik for three months at sea.

“Instead of ordering the ship back to Europe, the Elbeik docked in Turkish waters and was therefore bound to set course for a three-month ordeal,” animal welfare organization Four Paws said in a statement.

“Once live animals have been exported from the EU, they may no longer be (re-)imported into the EU,” they said.

“We have been inside these vessels, after a few days the animals are already covered in shit, imagine after two months,” Maria Boada-Saña, a veterinarian at the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), told The Animal Reader when her organization first learned about the animals stuck at sea on the Karim Allah and Elbeik.

The Karim Allah returned to Spain at the end of February, where 895 male calves were killed when they got off the ship.

Re-sold or killed
On Thursday, the Elbeik returned to Spain after being at sea for exactly three months. Veterinarians will check the animals, and then Spain will decide what will happen to the animals: re-sold and spend more time on a ship or killed immediately.

So far, 160 Spanish calves on board the Elbeik have died from being cramped at sea for so long without veterinary help. Dead animals were thrown overboard. Spain could have prevented this from happening.

Since the animals of Karim Allah were declared ‘unfit to travel’ and euthanised, animal welfare organisations are expecting the same to happen to the animals on the Elbeik.

‘Fit to travel’ would mean the suffering of the animals would be extended and they’ll be sent to another country; the most humane outcome would be to end the suffering of these animals by euthanising them, animal welfare organisations say.

Giving the animals a second chance at life by sending them to a sanctuary after all they’ve been through is an option that Spanish authorities haven’t offered.

‘Re-selling the animals is perverse’
“The fact that the question even arises whether the animals can still be shipped to third countries to be slaughtered there without anaesthesia under the most brutal conditions after they have had to suffer three months of hellish torture is downright perverse,” Martina Stephany, director of Farm Animals at Four Paws, said.

“I am deeply appalled at how late the Spanish authorities have informed the EU about the situation,” she continued. Four Paws wants an immediate stop to live animal transports in the EU.

“Instead of transporting live animals in agony for weeks, we need the transport of meat,” Stephany said. “It must not be an option to make the animals’ path to death even more difficult. Sentient beings deserve to be treated with dignity.”

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