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Up to 200,000 animals are stranded in vessels stuck in the Suez Canal bottleneck

At least 20 vessels transporting live animals became stuck in the Suez Canal after the cargo ship Evergreen blocked passage there. Although the ship has now been freed, specialists warn that up to 200,000 animals trapped in these vessels are likely to die of hunger and dehydration due to the delay in their travel. Some boats were supposed to have reached their destination four days ago, but are only now resuming their courses.

Photo: Animals International, investigation on live exports in the Middle East in 2018

The majority of the animals are sheep originating from Romania. This is not the first time that Romania is involved in tragedy when it comes to live export. At the end of 2019, a vessel transporting 14,000 sheep capsized and sank in the Black Sea — most of the animals drowned.

Photo: Animals International

Apprehension about live exports has been on the rise in the last months, as another dramatic episode became news. Thousands of calves were stranded in two vessels from December until March. The vessels had to traverse the whole Mediterranean Sea seeking a port that would accept the animals, but their entry was denied in several countries over suspicions of an outbreak of the bovine disease bluetongue onboard. When one of the two vessels returned to Cartagena, in Spain, from where the calves left, authorities wouldn’t let them back into the country and ordered their slaughter.

The veterinary report ordered by Spanish authorities highlighted that animals were found “crammed, with broken limbs, thirsty, dying, moving with difficulty among the corpses of those who were unable to endure the conditions of the journey, who were unable to avoid death”. In at least three pens there were dead animals half-buried in the manure of their fellow animals. The remaining calves show “evident weight loss that in extreme cases reaches cachexia (extreme malnutrition), as well as problems of vision, and dermatological and motor issues”.

Live exports are always cruel — even when they go “right”. And the cases in which it goes terribly wrong are far from being just a few exceptions. You can learn more about the five reasons we’re calling for a ban on live exports here. If you agree that animals should not have to endure this, sign our petition asking governments to phase out live exports for good / please sign our petition asking development banks to stop funding factory farms here.


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