Almost 900 cattle that have been at sea for more than two months in "hellish" conditions are set to be killed by the Spanish authorities, as they are no longer fit for export.
The 895 cows left the Spanish port of Cartagena in mid-December bound for Turkey. However, the ship was denied entry as Turkish port authorities feared they had bovine bluetongue virus.
Turkey did not test the animals for the virus, but their refusal to allow them entry came after a recent outbreak in the Spanish province of Huesca.
Various other countries also refused the ship entry, even to replenish animal feed, and the cows were forced to go several days without water, Reuters reported.
The ship - named Karim Allah - finally returned to Spain last week where it was set to undergo an official inspection by government veterinarians.
That inspection has now taken place, with Spain's minister of agriculture saying the animals must be destroyed, AAP reports.
The veterinarians said the cattle was unfit for transport to another country or to be returned to Spain.
Human rights activists told Reuters more than 100 cows died on the ship before it returned to Spain and the rest were "suffering truly hellish conditions" while at sea.