23,000 Baby Chicks Die In Transit At Madrid Barajas Airport

More than 20,000 days old chicks that were abandoned at Madrid Barajas Airport have died. Police were called to intervene after it was discovered that 26,000 live chicks had been dumped at the cargo terminal after their containers became damaged. Only 3,000 are thought to have survived the ordeal.

23,000 Baby Chicks Die In Transit At Madrid Barajas Airport
Thousands of chicks have died after being abandoned in Madrid. Photo: Magic Aviation via Wikimedia

26,000 chicks left to starve

An airline cargo operator has some tough questions to answer this week, after a shipment of 26,000 baby chicks was abandoned at Madrid Barajas Airport. The chicks, just days old, had been left in the cargo terminal in overcrowded conditions, with no food or water for three days before they were discovered.

It seems that, due to bad weather, the cardboard containers that were being used to transport the chicks got soaked and broke. Rather than trying to find another means of housing the chicks, the cargo operator simply left them in the terminal.

It’s not clear at this stage who the cargo carrier was, or where the chicks were traveling to and from. In a statement about the incident, Spain’s Policia Nacional said,

Last weekend, the National Police learned of the presence of thousands of chicks abandoned in boxes and pallets deposited in the cargo terminal of the main Madrid airport. The first police investigations revealed that three days before a shipment arrived with approximately 26,000 chicks transported in cardboard boxes. Due to the rain, the boxes broke, which made it impossible to continue with their transfer to their destination, leaving them abandoned in the cargo terminal itself.

At the time of the discovery, some 6,000 chicks had already died due to the lack of food during the days of abandonment, due to the cold of the elements and the deplorable conditions of overcrowding in which they were found. The remaining 20,000 were dying, trying to survive by eating the remains of animals that had already lost their lives.

The 20,000 living chicks were transferred to two animal protection services in Madrid. Sadly, most did not survive, with one of the charities stating only around 3,000 are thought to have made it through. The police are keen to ensure that this act does not go unpunished. Although they haven’t named the air transporter responsible, they have indicated that they intend to pursue an animal cruelty charge with the company.

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The Spanish police intend to press charges. Photo: Policia Nacional

Where are they now?

Animal protection association ALBA was one of the charities called in by police to help with the rescue. The president of the association, Carolina Corral, arrived at the airport within an hour of the phone call to assist with the effort. He told El Pais that it was the hardest situation he has experienced in his career, commenting,

“It was enough to make my hair stand on end.”

Also involved in the rescue was the Salvando Peludos association. Between the two organizations and hundreds of volunteers, they managed to find accommodation for the 3,000 live chicks. The rescue included sourcing multiple heat lamps, drinkers and suitable food for the birds, and saw local communities coming together with vets and shelters to assist the poor creatures.

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Fernando Sánchez, president of the Salvando Peludos association, says that they are now searching for suitable homes for the approximately 3,000 surviving chicks. He says that he wants them to avoid going to the consumption chain or to factory farms and is instead looking for families to adopt them into their homes.