Campaigners in Spain

Haven of hell: At “best”, the Elbeik's 1,610 cattle are killed on site

FOUR PAWS speaks of a total failure of the European Union as well as the Spanish authorities


19 March 2021 - 1,610 young cattle finally arrived in the port of Cartagena on Thursday night on the Elbeik after a three-month ordeal through the Mediterranean, following a request from the Spanish authorities. Although Spain knew about the bluetongue disease in some of the animals on board a few days after the ship left in December last year, the Elbeik was not called back, knowing that it would be turned away in the destination country. The global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has been at the port for a few days and has already reported on the resumption of cruel animal transports at sea - the ships stopped a week after 864 young bulls from the Karim Allah, which had also been en route for almost three months, had to be emergency slaughtered. The lives of the young bulls on the Elbeik are currently in the hands of the veterinarians - at best they will be killed on site. However, there is also talk of whether the animals can be exported again. FOUR PAWS is appalled that this is even under discussion and demands an immediate end to live animal exports to non-EU countries.

Three months ago to the day, on 18 December 2020, the Elbeik, a live animal transporter, docked in Tarragona, Spain. The animals were supposedly sold to the Middle East. Rumours about an alleged bluetongue disease on board foiled the plans and so the 54-year-old transport ship wandered through the Mediterranean for three months. Cruel detail: Already a few days after the Elbeik had departed, the Spanish authorities knew about the animal disease on board. 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, because once live animals have been exported from the EU, they may no longer be (re-)imported into the EU. 179 animals died during the voyage due to the disastrous conditions on board.

In the hands of the veterinarians

The European Union's transport regulations state that animals must be declared "fit for transport" (Art.3b) in order to be exported. To do this, the animals' state of health must first be examined by veterinarians. 

"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. I am deeply appalled at how late the Spanish authorities have informed the EU about the situation," 

says Dr Martina Stephany, Director of Farm Animals and Nutrition at FOUR PAWS, who is calling for an immediate halt to live animal transports in the EU, starting with the countries of Spain and Romania.

"Instead of transporting live animals in agony for weeks, we need the transport of meat. Above all, we need a drastic reduction in so-called 'animal production' and a fundamentally different understanding of how to treat animals. We need regional slaughter and a drastic increase in plant-based food. It must not be an option to make the animals' path to death even more difficult. Sentient beings deserve to be treated with dignity. But we are still many (sea)miles away from that," 

says Stephany. 

Live animal transport in Europe

Move the System, not the Animals!

Stop cruel live animal transport

Act now!
Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

PR International Officer

+43 (1) 89 50 20 20

+43 (0) 664 504 38 97

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

FOUR PAWS on Social Media

Stay up to date on this topic and on all FOUR PAWS activities on our social media channels:

or subscribe to FOUR PAWS International newsletter.


FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

Share now!