One animal' desperate bid for freedom — and one industry' unforgiving betrayal.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 1 July 2015

This is the face of an animal who tried desperately to earn his freedom from the live export trade — but was betrayed by this cruel industry, TWICE. He may have lost his struggle, but we are continuing his fight.

Cows aren’t particularly strong swimmers. But that didn’t stop this brave young steer from launching himself off of a live export dock into the crocodile infested waters below.

Extraordinary: A white steer swims for freedom after escaping a live export ship off the Port of Darwin

The escape attempt came after perhaps the most terrifying ordeal of his short life. This young steer had been rounded up, packed onto a crowded truck and transported to the busy Port of Darwin. His senses were blasted with unfamiliar sights and smells as he and thousands of other animals were being loaded onto a live export ship bound for Vietnam. Overcome by panic, he made a frantic dash for freedom. Not even two tranquiliser darts could prevent him from doing everything he could to secure his freedom. He ran over the side of the dock, plummeting metres into the water.

A local fisherman with the help of a ranger lasoo and rescue the fatigued animal before the order was issued to load him back onto the live export vessel.

All over the world, courageous stories of animals risking it all for one last-ditch chance at freedom have stolen the hearts of millions. ‘Herbie’ the calf escaped from a truck en route to the slaughterhouse — but was captured and given lifelong sanctuary. His rescue story is still melting hearts everywhere.

Even victims of live export have been granted clemency for their bravery and sheer will to survive — like Sahar the Australian sheep who swam to his freedom after being unloaded in Israel.

But exporter’s employees showed no such mercy to a terrified steer this week when they hauled his exhausted body onto the deck of a live export vessel he had tried so desperately to escape.

Despite his best efforts, this unlucky animal is back en route to be slaughtered in Vietnam — the same destination where Animals Australia investigators have repeatedly exposed exported Australian cattle being sledgehammered to death.

Forcing this terrified steer back onto a live export ship was not only a failure of humanity, it was also a breach of law. As inadequate as the protections for animals sold into the live export trade are, one thing is clear: any animal who is weak, unwell, or lethargic is deemed ‘unfit for loading’. Here was an animal who was all of these things — and yet he has now been sentenced to endure a stressful sea voyage that even ‘fit’ animals often do not survive. With the odds now stacked against him, the following days on open seas could easily become a fight for survival.

Legal complaint lodged

In truth, no animal should ever face the terror of live export. But while this cruel trade remains legal, Animals Australia is determined to ensure that what little protections exist for these vulnerable animals are enforced. We have therefore lodged a formal complaint with the Federal Department of Agriculture on behalf of this brave white steer whose treatment constitutes a clear breach of live export regulations.

This complaint follows a catalogue of cruelty and repetitive serious breaches of regulations in recent years.

Live exported Australian cattle

It’s difficult to hear stories like this and not reflect on the fundamental qualities that we share with all living beings — that is, the primal desire for safety and freedom. But seemingly, not even a 300kg animal launching himself into the sea is enough to open the eyes of an industry that values animals purely in dollars-per-kilogram.

In his name we are continuing his fight.


Join us to demand justice

Live export is not only a shameful blemish on Australia’s international reputation — it’s a crime against animals. It’s a crime that has seen millions of animals suffer and die on ships; and millions more brutally killed in countries where laws do not protect them from cruelty. Please stand alongside us to demand justice for these animals.

  • Call your MP today and demand an end to the live export trade, which subjects hundreds of thousands of individuals to gruelling transport only to be exposed to brutal slaughter.
  • If you see animals as individuals — not as ‘kilograms’ — join millions of people who are sparing animals from abuse by making kind choices in their everyday lives. Get started with the 5 minute guide to cruelty-free living.