Geronimo the alpaca killed as legal row ends

An alpaca at the centre of a legal row with the government has been killed.

Geronimo twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, and the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) ordered him to be euthanised.

Owner Helen Macdonald disputed the results and mounted several High Court challenges to save him.

“I am absolutely disgusted by this government. These are barbaric actions. It’s a disgrace,” said Ms Macdonald, who added she had received no warning.

Defra staff dressed in blue overalls, goggles and masks, accompanied by police, arrived at her farm in Wickwar, near Bristol, at about 11:00 BST and led Geronimo away to be destroyed, with the scene broadcast on an online live feed of the enclosure.

A spokesman confirmed the destruction warrant had been carried out after Geronimo was taken away from his pen and loaded into a trailer. The vehicle then left the scene under a police escort, with a number of protesters watching.

Ms Macdonald said the government had refused to act in good faith and had ignored her pleas for constructive dialogue.

“We know now they have been stringing us along for the last week, fobbing us off by saying people are on holiday and would get back to us this week,” she said.

“In fact, all the time they were simply planning to murder Geronimo. This is yet another appalling demonstration of bad faith and duplicity by the secretary of state and everyone at Defra.

“Geronimo has been manhandled out of my farm. He was rounded-up and dragged into a horsebox.”

Supporters had been camping out at the farm to try to prevent officials arriving to destroy Geronimo, and some were seen talking to police as the animal was removed.

One woman was briefly arrested after spraying officers with a water pistol, but was quickly de-arrested.

Once Defra staff had entered her farm, Ms Macdonald tweeted to ask for an “urgent meeting” with Environment Secretary George Eustice before adding: “Please don’t execute Geronimo”.
Ms Macdonald, a veterinary nurse, had called on Defra to allow Geronimo to be tested for a third time or let him live to aid research into the disease.

She argued the test used to test Geronimo was flawed and said he had tested positive previously because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria.

She lost a last-ditch High Court appeal to save Geronimo on 18 August, and the destruction warrant gave Defra until 4 September to put down the alpaca.

More than 140,000 people from around the world had signed a petition addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop Geronimo’s destruction.

Wildlife television presenter Chris Packham and the prime minister’s father Stanley Johnson also gave their support to save Geronimo.

Downing Street expressed sympathy for Ms Macdonald and Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “It’s obviously highly distressing for someone to lose animals to TB and that’s a situation that farmers sadly have to face.

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