Nearly 900 cattle that have been on a ship travelling the Mediterranean Sea for two months will be killed after veterinarians deemed them no longer fit for export, Spanish authorities say.
A total of 895 cattle set sail from the Spanish port of Cartagena on December 18 in the cargo ship named Karim Allah destined for export to Turkey.
But Turkish port authorities refused to let them disembark, reportedly because of suspicions about their health.
After a second failed attempt to unload the cattle in Libya, the boat returned to Cartagena, where Spanish authorities ordered it to dock on Thursday.
After an official inspection by government veterinarians, Spain's minister of agriculture said the animals were to be sacrificed.
Veterinarians judged them to be both unfit either for transport to another country of for their return to Spain.
The ministry said the cattle originally left Spain with the proper health authorisations.
Animal rights groups have denounced the slaughter of the livestock.
"This is yet another wake-up call to urgently end live export," the Eurogroup for Animals said.
Australian Associated Press