The Link Between Live Export and Animal Experimentation  

April 30, 2024


Before proceeding, please be aware that the following article contains graphic images of animals that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Animal Agriculture Fuels Animal Experimentation

You may be wondering why NZAVS is interested in Live Export - there is a shocking link between Live Export and animal experimentation!

The Animal Agriculture industry fuels animal experimentation as it tries to maximise its profits, for every single animal it uses.

Cattle are one of the most commonly used animals for science in NZ. This is sadly the result of being widely exploited by the animal agriculture industry for their milk and bodies.

At NZAVS we are dedicated to exposing these, at times, deeply twisted experiments - like the window-like holes (called fistulas) in the side of a cow's body. Photographed below. We know that when we share these with you, they can be hard to look at, and to comprehend why an industry so hellbent on the pursuit of profit could do this to animals!  

Cattle Class No More!

Horrific Live Export images taken on ships, we know, are also hard to look at. These appalling images are shared by brave whistleblowers because the suffering they document is inescapable on these boats to and from hell. Nothing short of purpose-built, floating prison, these ships and their dire, cramped cattle-class throw stressful situations at animals; stresses which stock up with these animals enduring unforgivable conditions, just to survive.  

The Link Between Live Export and Animal Experimentation  

The suffering animals endure on long voyages has been documented over and over again by independent and highly respected local and global veterinarians.  

Therefore, no in-lab experiment could ever replicate all the stresses that a Live Export voyage serves up to the animals trapped onboard. Yet experiments on animals are still executed to research Live Export! Many of these experiments are even financed by the animal agricultural industry and many of those results are withheld from the public.  

NZAVS can now reveal that animals have been exposed to the following experimentation.

The Live Export companies Aotearoa, New Zealand mainly uses are based in Australia where these experiments have taken place.  

These include experiments on impacts of intensive stocking density, access to basic survival necessities like feed and water, and responses of livestock to ship movement and general build-up of export stresses on animals:  

  • 375 animals from several farms were transported to the experiment area. They were then exposed to five different stocking density levels and two feeding availability levels for 18 days. The fate of the animals is not stated.1
  • 231 young animals were trucked to an experiment location and put into groups of 18 to test out three different stocking density levels for 21 days. All were exposed to temperatures ranging between 15 to 35 degrees Celsius and their behaviour monitored. Several animals had measuring devices put in their stomach, and these animals were killed for dissection at the end.2
  • Six animals were studied in pairs on a motion platform, in one-hour sessions for 12 days. The motion platform moved in both regular and irregular sequences to roll (side to side) and pitch (end to end) to monitor if the animals lost balance and displayed increased stress. The fate of the animals is not stated.3
  • A cause of death on Live Export boats is 'inanition', which means 'starving to death'. Four-month old animals were sent into a feeding room where a maximum concentration of ammonia was distributed by spraying walkways and using fans to distribute its smell. This was all to monitor impacts on why feed intake is reduced in high ammonia conditions caused by high excrement-levels on live export ships.4

Transportation is already document by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations as the most "stressful" and "injurious stage" for animals used in farms, but still these experiments were carried out, and all of which cannot compare to the extreme conditions and poor welfare experienced on a live export ship at sea for a full voyage.

Stop the Draconian Trade of Live Export  

When NZAVS shared the details of these experiments with Dr Lynn Simpson, a vet and world-renowned Live Export whistleblower and tireless advocate to end the Live Export trade, this is what she had to say:  

Exposing animals to individual stressors such as high stocking density, difficulty accessing troughs, the fatigue of being jostled around due to ship movement in rough seas whilst being hot, humid, deep in excrement and exposed to pathogens in a confined noisy stressful environment will never replicate the true level of accumulative stress and distress of all these pressures simultaneously experienced by animals in the actual live export system.

There is no research that can justify the draconian trade of live export by sea. Keep the ban, keep NZ as a world leader in animal welfare.

Dr Lynn Simpson has served as the on-board vet for 57 Live Export voyages tending to the needs of animals and humans alike under horrifically stressful conditions.  

Countries that acknowledge Live Export Cruelty

Thanks to Minister Damien O'Connor, of the Labour-led Government, Aotearoa NZ took a world-leading stance to ban the Live Export trade.  

As world-leading stances do, this triggered other countries to follow suit. In fact, the UK government has a Bill going through their parliament, with their ban likely to be only a matter of months away.5

And so, when the NZ industry marketing machine, via the Ministry of Primary Industries, says that Live Export can resume with better standards by sea they are knowingly profiting from an unforgiveable cruelty that our country acknowledged first, and other countries have agreed with.  

We cannot see the cruelty and then decide to unsee it and pretend it's not happening.  

We cannot allow the animal agricultural industry, in all its guises – from Live Export to Experimentation to continue to be the leading global cause of animal suffering. Its expansion must be stopped. This trade cannot resume.  

We must #ProtectTheBan. We must say "NO" to Live Export.

The ban on Live Export was fought for by so many incredible animal advocates, vets and animal science and research scientists, over decades. We know you are all exhausted and distressed. This threat to the ban literally brings us to tears and then we think of the horror our animals will endure and we pick ourselves up for them.  


Please do everything in your power to sign and share the parliamentary petition calling on the National-led coalition government to not reverse the ban on Live Export by Sea. Your first name, last name and email address is all that is needed by Parliament.

Image credit: All photos of animals on live export ships used in these email are credited to Dr Lynn Simpson.

With your help we can end animal experimentation in Aotearoa.