In late December, some 1,800 bulls left Spain for Turkey aboard a ship called the Elbeik. The trip was supposed to take around 11 days, then the cattle were to be sold, mostly to halal slaughterhouses, where they’d be killed with minimal suffering, as required by religious law.
At least it would have been swift. For the next three months, as the pandemic began to wreak havoc on global shipping, the vessel failed to unload its cargo, and the animals began to starve, according to an investigation by the Spanish government. Nearly 10% of the bulls died, their corpses thrown overboard or left to fester in the pens among the living. When the Elbeik returned to Spain, authorities ruled its remaining 1,600 animals were too sick to sell and had to be put down.