Spain orders culling of cattle on board Turkey-denied ship

Spanish authorities have ordered the euthanization of over 850 cattle on board a ship headed to Turkey after the country refused to accept the vessel, citing fear of an infectious disease, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said on Saturday.

Lebanon-registered ship, Karim Allah, left the Spanish port of Cartagena in December and was headed to Turkey to sell the young bulls, DW said, when Turkish officials refused the animals amid fear of bluetongue disease.

Turkey has since suspended the import of live animals from Spain. The country has become increasingly dependent on meat imports due to the increase in wholesale and retail prices of beef and lamb.

Karim Allah was unable to find buyers in Libya and Tunisia and eventually returned to Cartagena, where it was prohibited from docking, DW said.

A veterinary examination, which was eventually allowed, showed that 85 percent of the cattle appeared to have fungal infections and “a large number” were affected by digestive disorders, with the best option for the animals being euthanization.

Animal rights activists have slammed the conditions on the ship as “hellish’’ and are pressuring the Spanish government to ban such means of transport.

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