Geronimo the alpaca killed after court-ordered destruction warrant carried out

Geronimo the alpaca killed after court-ordered destruction warrant carried out
alpaca gone
Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 31/08/2021

- 12:47

Updated: 31/08/2021

- 13:56

Geronimo had twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis

Geronimo the alpaca has been killed after a court-ordered destruction warrant was carried out following the animal twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

In a statement, Defra said Geronimo was moved from the farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday and “euthanised” by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) as a “necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB)”.

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “This is a terribly sad situation and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease.

“No one wants to have to cull infected animals if it can be avoided, but we need to follow the scientific evidence and cull animals that have tested positive for bTB to minimise spread of this insidious disease and ultimately eradicate the biggest threat to animal health in this country.

“Not only is this essential to protect the livelihoods of our farming industry and rural communities, but it is also necessary avoid more TB cases in humans.”

Defra said a post-mortem examination will now be carried out by veterinary pathologists from the APHA, followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples, which can take up to three months to process.

Downing Street has expressed sympathy for Helen Macdonald after her alpaca Geronimo was killed following it twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis.

The Prime Minister’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.

“Our sympathies are with Ms Macdonald and any others that are affected by this terrible disease.”

Avon and Somerset Police officers attended the site in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire shortly before 11am on Tuesday morning alongside a number of people dressed in blue overalls, masks and goggles.

The late Geronimo had twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and a destruction warrant has been ordered for the animal, although owner Helen Macdonald believed the tests had returned false positives.

After around 20 minutes after police arrived, the black alpaca was rounded up as other alpacas watched on from a nearby field, before being loaded into a trailer, which then left the scene.

The force later confirmed it was supporting the Animal and Plant Health Agency in executing a court warrant.

Supporters had been camping out at Ms Macdonald’s 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.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We can confirm officers are in attendance at a farm in the Wickwar area of South Gloucestershire this morning to support the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who are executing a court warrant.

“We’ll always support our partner agencies to carry out their lawful duties and our role is to prevent a breach of the peace and to ensure public safety is protected.”

Ms Macdonald has long argued that the Enferplex test is fundamentally flawed and says Geronimo tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria.

The veterinary nurse, who farms alpacas at her home in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, had received support from around the world – with more than 140,000 people signing a petition against Geronimo’s destruction.

Earlier this month, a High Court judge refused her lawyer’s application for a temporary injunction to stop the destruction order and reopen the case.

As well as alpacas, badgers have been a victim of the fight against bovine TB, with mass culling employed to stop the spread since 2013, sparking a huge public backlash.

A Defra spokesman said: “We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation – just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.

“While nobody wants to cull animals, we need to do everything we can tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected.”

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