Geronimo the Alpaca's owner reacts to 'incredibly sad' post-mortem results

  • Geronimo's owner speaks to ITV News West Country

The "devastated" owner of an alpaca which was killed after testing positive for TB has hit out at the government's "blind adherence" to "flawed policy" after the animal's post-mortem results were released.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published the results of an autopsy carried out on Geronimo the alpaca today (December 10).

The animal was put down in August after twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB), despite a four-year legal battle to save him.

Defra carried out a post-mortem in a bid to identify the strain of the disease present and help inform decisions on testing other animals.

The department previously said it found "TB-like lesions" inside the animal's body. It has now said it was "not possible to culture bacteria from tissue samples taken”.

A High Court judge ordered Geronimo to be put down. Credit: PA

This does not necessarily mean the animal was free of TB.

"It had previously twice tested positive using highly specific, validated and reliable tests," a Defra spokesperson said.

But Geronimo's owner Helen MacDonald has always maintained Geronimo never had the disease and believes the tests were false positives.

Speaking after the post-mortem results were made public, she said she remains "devastated" by Geronimo's "unnecessary, pointless, cruel and horrific" death.

"At no stage in the post-mortem process has there been any evidence of any sign of Bovine TB," she claimed.

"The reason the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) were not able to culture bacteria from the tissue samples taken at post-mortem examination is because there was no bacteria to culture."

Government officials took Geronimo the alpaca from the farm where he lived in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, before he was put down. Credit: PA

Ms MacDonald described the amount of taxpayers' money spent on the case as "ridiculous", saying she "knew all along" he did not have TB.

She added: “For nearly five years, we have asked the government to retest, reconsider and review their bovine TB policy, appealing directly to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Secretary of State George Eustice.

"We offered Geronimo as part of a medical research project to develop a new bTB vaccine, we went through the courts multiple times to try to get to the truth, we offered for him to be retested, and at each turn we were blocked. Instead, I have been subjected to years of bullying and harassment by Defra."

“It is incredibly sad and personally devastating that the truth only emerges after the senseless death of Geronimo, and that the government are still refusing to do anything to prevent this happening again.

"This latest episode is yet another example of this government’s blind adherence to a flawed policy and their own flawed version of events, regardless of the consequences.”

She added: "This government are letting down the UK farming community as a whole."

ITV News has contacted Defra for a response to Ms MacDonald's comments.