The Let the Animals Live organization yesterday reported the death of some 500 calves that were being held at the Veterinary Services' Ayalot and Tzofar quarantine stations in the Arava.
According to the animal rights group, the calves, which arrived in Israel from Australia by ship at the beginning of the month, had been subjected to much abuse and mistreatment on their journey. The calves had been destined for accelerated feeding over a number of months and then slaughter.
A statement released yesterday by Let the Animals Live described the matter as the routine practice of the abuse of sheep and calves that are shipped to Israel from Australia under very crowded conditions and without sufficient air. The journey, the organization notes, also exposes them to disease.
Let the Animals Live says that the reason behind "these death journeys" is purely economical - the lifting of duties on the import of live calves for slaughter. Under the current situation, the import of live calves is not subject to customs, and the high duties that are imposed on the import of meat encourage this practice.
The Agriculture Ministry said in response that some 4,000 calves that had arrived in Eilat from Australia at the beginning of the month, and were intended for delivery to the Palestinian Authority, had been placed in quarantine in the Arava as was common practice with all shipments of livestock. While at the quarantine stations, the ministry said, some of the calves were diagnosed with a type of fever that affects animals.
Around 200 had died from the illness and the remainder were being treated with antibiotics and were on their way to recovery, the ministry said.
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