Geronimo the alpaca is killed after four-year battle to save him fails

A four-year battle to save the life of Geronimo the alpaca has failed.

The news was confirmed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In a statement, Defra said Geronimo was moved from the farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday and “euthanised” by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) as a “necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB)”.

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.”

Defra said a postmortem examination will now be carried out by veterinary pathologists from the Apha, followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples, which can take up to three months to process.

Geronimo twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, but the animal’s owner, Helen Macdonald, a veterinary nurse, said the regime was flawed and the eight-year-old alpaca was perfectly healthy.

Macdonald fought the decision in the courts and pleaded with the UK government to allow him to be retested, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling for the camelid to be spared and a “human shield” of animal lovers stationing themselves around Geronimo’s pen in south Gloucestershire.

But after a high court judge once again ruled against Macdonald, the government said Geronimo had to be culled.

On Tuesday, police officers arrived at the farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire that was Geronimo’s home and took the animal away.

It came days before the destruction warrant for Geronimo ends on 4 September.

Avon and Somerset police said earlier: “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, 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.”

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