More than 100,000 horses a year in the US are being slaughtered for human consumption in Europe and Asia, despite the country’s slaughterhouses having closed down in 2007.

A government study has uncovered that horses are being transported many miles to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for food.

“Nearly the same number of US horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010 — nearly 138,000 — as was slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased,” the study on the unintended consequences of stopping domestic horse slaughter revealed.

“From 2006 through 2010, US horse exports for slaughter increased by 148 percent to Canada and 660 percent to Mexico.”

American zoos and circuses, which earlier could obtain horse meat domestically, now buy imported horse meat to feed their collections of big cats, the study added. Pet food manufacturers are permitted to process meat from domestic horse corpses, it said.