Owner will not put Geronimo the alpaca down despite High Court order

  • Watch Alex Wood's report here.

The owner of an alpaca the High Court ruled must die in the coming weeks says she is 'living in fear' but will not put him down.

The Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs has the authority to end Geronimo's life after the High Court rejected his owner's appeal last week.

Geronimo the alpaca has lived at Helen Macdonald's farm in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire since 2017.

Upon his arrival in to the UK from New Zealand, Helen had him voluntarily tested for Bovine Tuberculosis following which he returned a positive result.

Helen disputed the result and stated he had been injected with too much tuberculin prior to his departure from New Zealand. Geronimo then failed a second test.

The dispute has been ongoing ever since with the animal being kept in isolation on her farm.

Now though she has stated she will not let him be put down, even saying she would take a bullet for him.

"It's been really, really difficult this week" she said.

"You know, I'm not sleeping very well as you can imagine and there's so much going that we're struggling just talking everybody and get through the day but I cannot consent to having a healthy animal euthanised."

Officers can now enter her farm at any point to euthanise her animal has caused Helen large amounts of distress, she described how she's lived in fear for the last four years.

Geronimo the alpaca tested positive for Bovine Tuberculosis in 2017.

"I don't know whether they will give me notice, whether they will turn up when I'm asleep and break into my house, my farm," she said.

"I'm worried about my bio-security. I'm worried about what happens when Geronimo is faced with strangers and how his final moments end if they come in here without talking to me."

Speaking earlier this week after her appeal in the High Court was turned down, Helen said: “TB is a progressive wasting disease and in alpacas, they typically die within a year.

“They cough, they splutter, they get pneumonia-like symptoms, they lay down and die. 

“They said he might have caught it at a show in New Zealand, which would have been 2015, and he’s still here four years later."

In 2018, Helen revealed the ongoing argument may have cost her over £100,000, now that figure is expected to be much higher.

She actually called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene to save the animal after having no breakthrough with DEFRA.

"I’d like Boris Johnson to intervene now and look at this case, look at the evidence and sort out his Government because people’s lives are at stake, animals lives are at stake and we’re not going to get rid of the endemic disease in this country if people aren’t all working together.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been asked to intervene by the owner. Credit: PA images.

A Defra spokesperson said they sympathised with Ms Macdonald, and described TB as a “terrible disease”.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“Bovine TB causes devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities and that is why we need to do everything we can to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.”