Geronimo the alpaca removed as police arrive at Gloucestershire farm

Claire Hayhurst
Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 31/08/2021

- 11:56

Updated: 31/08/2021

- 12:26

Avon and Somerset Police officers attended the site in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire shortly before 11am on Tuesday

Geronimo the alpaca has been taken from the farm where he lives by Government vets supported by a police escort.

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.

Geronimo has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and a destruction warrant has been ordered for the animal, although owner Helen Macdonald believes the tests are returning false positives.

After around 20 minutes 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.”

The destruction warrant is valid until September 4 and Ms Macdonald wants the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to allow Geronimo to be tested for a third time or let him live to aid research into the disease.

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, has 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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