Owner condemns 'barbaric' killing of Geronimo the alpaca

  • Geronimo taken off the farm by the police and Defra officials [Warning: Contains footage some may find distressing]

The owner of an alpaca which has been taken away and euthanised by Government officials has condemned the killing.

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

Geronimo’s owner, Helen Macdonald, believes the alpaca’s test results have returned false positives and has campaigned for years for him to be re-tested.

On the morning of Tuesday 31 August, Defra officials were supported by police as they moved into the farm.

Geronimo was escorted off the farm by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency - which forms part of Defra - who were executing a court-ordered warrant.

Avon and Somerset Police officers also attended the farm to "prevent a breach of the peace", a spokesperson for the force confirmed.

Geronimo has since been put down.

Speaking from the South Gloucestershire farm after Geronimo was taken away, Helen criticised the Government for the way it handled Geronimo's case and removal.

Helen Macdonald had led a four-year campaign to stop Geronimo from being culled Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

She describe Geronimo's death as "barbaric" and claimed the Government refused to engage "in good faith" in the past week.

"I’m absolutely disgusted by this Government," she added before maintaining his positive tests had "no validity".

Defra’s 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."

Three people, who arrived with a police escort, surround Geronimo the Alpaca Credit: Claire Hayhurst/PA

Downing Street has expressed sympathy for Geronimo's owner.

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."