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Farmer Macdonald loses appeal to save alpaca Geronimo from being killed

Published: Updated:

A UK court has ordered an alpaca named Geronimo that twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis to be slaughtered after his owner lost an appeal to save him.

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Geronimo’s death was ordered by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) after he was imported from New Zealand but failed two tests, The Independent reports.

Owner Helen Macdonald maintains that the tests have been returning false positives and has refused a permission for a third test.

An urgent application for a temporary injunction to halt enforcement of the destruction order was considered by Justice Stacey, who concluded that there was “no prospect” of the owner succeeding.

Macdonald’s lawyers told the court Geronimo first tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in September 2017 and has been in isolation since.

Lawyer Catrin McGahey argued in court that although DEFRA argued that there was a “residual risk” of transmission to other animals, Macdonald’s biosecurity arrangements were “impeccable.”

She added that, after the publicity from Macdonald’s case, other animals who had been tested in the same way as Geronimo showed no signs of the disease after being euthanized.

Protesters hold up placards as they gather outside Downing Street to protest against the decision to euthanize Geronimo, an alpaca which has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, in cental London on August 9, 2021. (AFP)
Protesters hold up placards as they gather outside Downing Street to protest against the decision to euthanize Geronimo, an alpaca which has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, in cental London on August 9, 2021. (AFP)

Last week the British government insisted all the evidence on the animal’s condition had been “looked at very carefully.”

“There are no plans to execute the warrant today. We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation, just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease,” a DEFRA spokesman said on Wednesday.

“It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny.

“Bovine tuberculosis is one of the greatest animal health threats we face today and causes devastation and distress for farming families and rural communities across the country, while costing the taxpayer around £100m every year.

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

More than 130,000 people have signed a petition calling on prime minister Boris Johnson to intervene and stop the killing.

Demonstrations were held outside the DEFRA office in London demanding a halt to the eight-year-old alpaca’s slaughter.

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