Donkeys and Horses in Australia’s Lurid Live-Export Industry

Not only has there been a recent revelation that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is considering amending the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System in order to facilitate the live export of equines, the proposed destination for donkeys leaving the Northern Territory is also China – a country with no animal-welfare laws whatsoever.

Living, breathing animals are not commodities to be exported. But even if our government cared about only their most fundamental welfare needs, sending them to a place where they won’t have even the most basic protection is disgraceful.

We are all too familiar with the problems already plaguing Australia’s live-export industry. Veterinarian Dr Lynn Simpson best described the industry as “shipping’s modern slave trade”.

On live-export ships, many animals become gravely ill from rapidly spreading diseases because they’re often mired in their own waste. The ammonia fumes from the accumulated urine are so noxious that they’ve even caused animals to go blind or experience respiratory failure. Others starve, become dehydrated, or succumb to heatstroke. There are particular concerns for equine animals subjected to long travel, as studies show even short transport periods can be extremely stressful.

Those who do make it to destination countries then face abuse and slaughter methods that would be illegal in Australia.

In the decade since PETA US’ 2006 exposé of the live-export trade to the Middle East, it has been proved time and time again that our government cannot guarantee any kind of welfare standard for the millions of cows and sheep who face the gruelling live-export journey every year. Sentencing more animals to the same fate is a huge betrayal to both them and the Australian public.


PETA has written directly to the Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, but you can also prevent live-export massacre from expanding to Australian donkeys and horses by sending a polite enquiry to the Live Animal Exports Program, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources​ here.


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What Else You Can Do

By taking the following actions, you can help prevent animals from suffering on live-export ships:

  • Sign up for PETA Asia-Pacific’s Activist Network so that you can stay informed about events and protests in your area.
  • Share information about the cruelty of the live-export industry on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.
  • Write letters to your local newspaper or call in to radio stations to inform readers and listeners about what happens to animals who are shipped overseas. Check out this letter-writing guide to get started.
  • PETA can provide leaflets that explain the cruelty of live export. Post them on community message boards, include one with every bill payment, or hold your own leafleting event or protest. E-mail us to get a stash of leaflets or for more information.