Team preparing for sheep rescue

Animal Disaster Relief in Romania

14,600 sheep trapped inside a capsized ship


25th November 2019 - Heartbreaking news as a cargo ship carrying over 14,000 sheep overturns. Yesterday, shortly after leaving the port of Capu Midia on the Romanian Black Sea coast, the animal transport ship 'Queen Hind' overturned, trapping approximately 4,600 terrified sheep on board, of which, due to being trapped in the submerging compartments, many are presumed to have already drowned. The team were safely evacuated, but as thousands of sheep were expected to be alive and suffering, our partner organisation ARCA / Letea Wild Horses in Romania made the rapid decided to go on board the vessel to try to save as many sheep as possible, before it was too late.

The animals were destined to be transported from Europe to Saudi Arabia. Every year more than one billion poultry and 37 million live cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses are transported across borders. Just a couple of years ago in 2017, mass suffering was seen when 2,400 sheep were found to have died a hideous death from stress, hear and suffocation aboard a live transport ship travelling from Australia to the Middle East. 

Live transport comes to massive animal welfare issue, due to travel time and transport conditions, it is almost impossible to transport animals long distances humanely. Your personal shopping and eating habits decide day after day how animals are kept and treated. Make a stand today against animal transport by replacing meat and products of animal origin as often as possible with plant-based alternatives. 

August 2020
Sheared sheep

Sheared for the summer

In the warm Romanian heat, our rescued sheep needed to have their wool coats sheared for the summer. Its vital to shear sheep, as dirt gets caught in the wool, which can cause illness or discomfort for them if left! The sheep were really relieved after they got their summer-haircutThey are doing well and they are enjoying every day to the fullest since we rescued them. 

June 2020

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Six months on...

It has been a long road to recovery for our rescued sheep, but now they can enjoy the life they deserve. 

May 2020
Sheep Beetle

The unlucky one!

Do you remember our rescue sheep currently living the good life in Romania after being rescued from a capsized ship? They were the lucky survivors, but sadly, for one of them, life hasn’t been so lucky since!

Firstly, A few months ago, Ram Beetle
 had a severe allergic reaction when he was stung by a wasp. He received urgent treatment and made a full recovery, but sadly for Beetle, last week our partner organisation, ARCA, noticed something was wrong when he began acting disorientated and walking in circles. With these worrying symptoms, he was rushed to the clinic where a scan revealed his diagnosis, a parasitic disease that had developed into a cyst in his brain. 

That same day, Beetle underwent emergency surgery to remove the cyst, and as he woke up from the invasive surgery, it was clear he was immediately feeling better. For now, he will remain being is closely monitored by the veterinary team in the hope that there is no sequel, we all have our fingers crossed for more luck on his road to recovery and will keep you updated on his progress

Lambs Easter and Tombi

It's all sunshine and play

We have a positive update from the rescued sheep, the smallest lambs Tombi and Easter have joined the two older lambs and are enjoying endless playtime in the sunshine! Soon, all the new arrivals and the mothers will be able to join the rest of the herd.

Isis and lambs go outside

The lambs get their first taste of sunshine

As the sun came out we also introduced our other two lambs, Mărțișor and Bambi, to the rest of the herd. Of course, a very close eye was kept on their encounter for safety reasons, but it was a great success. The lambs were very happy to lay in the sun and run and play freely.

Now a total of 185 sheep, all given a second chance at life, for which they will live loved and free from suffering.

Lambs Tombi and Easter

Two new additions to our rescued herd!

We were in for a busy Easter – two more lambs were born into the herd of rescued sheep! 

As the team were castrating the sheep, they found a further two females, and you guessed it – both heavily pregnant. The team ensured that the young ewes were given a safe place to give birth, and this week we welcomed Tombi and Easter into the world. They were both born happy and healthy – and are enjoying their first few days in the world. 

MArch 2020
Lamb Mărțișor and cat

Update on our miracle lamb

A couple of weeks ago we welcomed a new life into the world, Marțișor, whose mother was lost and pregnant among the thousands of rams on the capsized cargo ship, destined for slaughter to the Middle East. 

With the stress and inexperience of being a new and young mother, she couldn’t produce milk and Mărțișor needed a surrogate, fast. We were very lucky to have found him a wonderful surrogate mother, Isis, and with her, we were also able to rescue her newborn lamb, Bambi. 

Now, the little family are doing very well, like much of the rest of the world, they’re also in isolation from the rest of their cohorts. The lambs spend their days playing together and taking many naps. They even get quite a few visits from the farm cat. Both Isis and lamb Bambi were destined to be killed for the meat industry, now they too, get their second chance. 

Sometimes, great tragedy can bring salvation - now these two babies, who know nothing of the tragic disaster and unbelievable suffering the other sheep lived through, will ever have too.

Lamb born from sheep rescued in Romania

An unexpected miracle - a lamb has been born!

Although all the sheep on-board the live transport cargo ship destined for the middle east were supposed to rams, whilst we were gathering the sheep for castration , our partner organisation ARCA found a surprise in the mix, a ewe – and she was ready to give birth. Our onsite vet, Dr Florin Mlagiu, helped bring the lamb into the world, and we named him Mărțișor. 

Although a little anxious, this young, inexperienced mother tried her very best for the lamb. However, our team found the few day old lamb not responsive – his mother was not able to provide the lamb with the nutrient rich milk he needs and it was a race against time to find him a surrogate
. Dr Florin picked up Mărțișor and ran to the nearest sheep herd – he found several females who had recently given birth but none of them accepted the little lamb. Then, we had our second miracle – another new mother, already with a lamb of her own, accepted Mărțișor and let him feed on her. Luckily, we could welcomed her and her natural lamb in our care.  Our team have called her Isis, after the famous mother from Egyptian mythology, and her daughter Bambi.
Little Mărțișor is still quite weak, and the coming weeks will tell us if he was able to get enough vital nutrients in his early days to build up immunity to grow. Despite not being able to feed, his mother’s bond is very strong and she stays in close contact with him - we are keeping our fingers crossed for him and our new little family of four. 

Rescued sheep outside in their enclosure

Update of our 180 survivors! 

We are happy to share this update with you.

The rams are doing great, they are well fed and have received medical treatment for any injuries and illnesses caused by the incident. The veterinarians and animal care team are finding creative ways to house 180 male sheep together to prevent fighting between themThe sheep are finally enjoying the freedom they deserve - one that so many billions of sheep and other farm animals will never get the chance to have. 

They will stand as ambassadors for the animals who could not be saved from suffering and be the faces to end live transport
. #EndLiveTransport

January 2020

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Watch their journey

These are the lucky ones, the 180 lives saved from a tragic accident which left over 14,000 sheep stranded for dead off the Romanian coast. They get a second chance and will be ambassadors for the millions of farm animals who suffer tremendously from long distance live transport every year.

Surviving sheep arrive at new home

Friday: We have custody of the surviving sheep! 

Today we can announce a huge success. We have finally gained the custody of the rescued sheep from the capsized ship in Romania.  Endless negotiations have taken place since the accident in order to gain custody of the sheep, but we have finally received the green light. With the help of you, our generous and determined supports, we have custody of the sheep. 
The 180 survivors were today taken from where they have been being held with the Romanian authorities and have arrived at their new homeOur vets will now do thorough health checks on the sheep, they will receive everything they need for their recovery ahead.
For us, it remains clear: When animals cannot be protected such transports should be banned. FOUR PAWS is calling on the EU to end of live animal transport. 

December 2019

Thursday: Discussion of transport reaching European Parliament

Our team and local partners ARCA / Letea Wild Horses are still in constant negotiations with the Romanian authorities, fighting to gain official custody of the sheep rescued from the capsized cargo ship.

The deaths of thousands of animals can be avoided, these sheep will remain a reminder of the cruelty that can be tied to live transport. Finally, the discussion has reached European Level, both the European Council and the European Parliament are in discussion about stricter rules for live animal transport. Help us to raise the voice of the public to end this cruelty and sign our petition at the bottom of the page.


Tuesday: Negotiations are ongoing

Together with our local partners ARCA / Letea Wild Horses, our team are still in negotiations with the authorities in Romania on the ownership of the rescued sheep. 
We strive to make sure that these thousands of sheep did not die in vain. Something has to change with the laws and regulations on live animal transport. We want to make sure that instead of transporting live animals on long, torturous journeys, that only meat and genetic material can be transported.
We are calling on the European Institutions and EU member states to work for a total ban on the export of live animals. Please help us end this torture #EndLiveTransport. 

Vet check on sheep rescued from live transport cargo accident

Wednesday: Vet check of survivors

Our onsite vets in Romania were able to check the rescued survivors following last week's tragic cargo accident, which claimed the lives of over 14,000 sheep. Along with our local partners ARCA / Letea Wild Horses and other NGOs, 254 alive sheep were able to be pulled from the wreckage. Sadly, since then, 60 of these sheep have died, and a further 11 were euthanised due to their injuries  . Most of the remaining animals are in good condition, some worse than others but all are receiving adequate care and treatmentSadly, we were not able to take more photos on the farm premises. 
Until now, what will happen to the sheep still remains uncertain, and our team are still in negotiations, fighting to ensure these sheep a safe future they deserve.


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Monday: We keep on fighting 

Many of you are wondering what is going to happen to the surviving sheep currently receiving medical care on a farm. We are working at full speed to give the sheep a chance to live, so please understand that we can't say more at the moment. Together with other NGOs, our team of ARCA / Letea Wild Horses will attend a demonstration in Romania tomorrow, so that an accident like this can not happen anymore. We'll keep you updated!

November 2019

Saturday: It’s time to say thank you 

The last few days have been very emotional for all of us. We were angry, sad, determined, motivated, exhausted, but above all grateful. Grateful for these people in the picture, especially our team Dr. Ovidiu Rosu, Kuki Barbuceanu and Dr. Florin Mlagiu from ARCA Letea Wild Horses – THANK YOU for your courage, commitment and motivation. Also a big thank you to ISU, ARSVOM and ANR, with whom our team searched side by side for survivors. You are the true heroes of this mission! We, who sit behind the PCs and write these updates, are just thankful to be able to report on your great work. And of course, a big thank you to our FOUR PAWS community. Not only did you support us with countless donations, but you also shared our posts on social media and left your encouraging support in the comments. Now, we hope that all rescued sheep will get the chance to live a quiet and peaceful life. We will continue to fight for the survivors of this shipwreck.

Sheep pulled from wreckage

Thursday: Still a race against time

It is amazing that after 3 days, our team and partners from ARCA / Letea Wild Horses are still pulling out survivors from the wreckage. The team are exhausted, but they will not stop until each and every possible life has been saved. Today our team will be at the side of ISU who will cut into one more compartment of the ship. The 254 rescued sheep, for now are safe and receiving the much needed medical attention they need.


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Wednesday: 119 sheep brought ashore!

Our ARCA / Letea Wild Horses team worked tirelessly with Romanian firefighters until late into the night to search for survivors. The knowledge that there are still conscious animals on board drives us back into the partially flooded corridors of the freighter against all fatigue and exhaustion. We have no time to think about the unbelievable sight of this ship loaded with the bodies of thousands of animal carcasses. Every time we have almost given up hope, the leg of a sheep suddenly twitches in front of us. From nowhere we hear again and again a quiet "Baa", which steers us in the direction of a still breathing animal. Together we pull the frightened creatures out from the mass grave and into the daylight.
According to the code of honour of a captain, we will only leave this ship when every living sheep is outside. 

Even though we have been severely hit in view of the many thousands of dead, we can inform you that to this point, we have been able to rescue 119 sheep alive from the ship. Many of you have been wondering what would happen to the animals, and we have good news: all 119 of them have already been brought to safety and are currently being treated and cared for on a farm. Once the rescue mission is over, we will consider what will happen to them and how we can make sure they are well. 
However, the next mission is already underway, and it is even more difficult than the previous ones: some areas of the ship have been rendered inaccessible by the incident, our team now has to drill openings in the locked holds. No one knows what awaits us behind these walls, but we hope to find sheep alive inside.


Tuesday: Our team is on board!

Breaking news from the sinking cargo ship off the Romanian coast: since yesterday we have been trying to make it clear to the local authorities that live sheep are still trapped in the capsized ship. Our partner organisation ARCA / Letea Wild Horses in Romania has decided to go on board to try and get the animals out of the water. It is a race against time to get as many animals can get to safety!

Capsized animal transport ship

Monday: Breaking news

Heartbreaking news as a cargo ship carrying 14,600 sheep overturnsYesterday, shortly after leaving the port of Capu Midia on the Romanian Black Sea coast, the animal transport ship "Queen Hind" overturned, trapping more than 14,600 terrified sheep onboard, of which most are presumed to have drowned. 

Rescue team at capsized

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