A farmer whose beloved stud alpaca faces the prospect of being shot on Friday after twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis has appealed to the environment secretary, George Eustice, to speak with her amid last-ditch attempts to save the animal.
Helen Macdonald lost a final attempt in the high court last week to save her alpaca, Geronimo, from slaughter and a new warrant calling for him to be put down took effect from Thursday.
The veterinary nurse, who breeds the species at her farm in South Gloucestershire, said she was prepared to be arrested as she braced herself for the imminent arrival of a contractor to carry out the order within a 30-day “kill window”.
“There is no validity to the test they have used and they have no data to back it up,” she told Sky News on Friday morning.
“The law is on their side and they can do what they like but this alpaca is healthy and has been certified by vets,” added Macdonald, who has been locked in a legal battle with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs since 2017.
“All I am asking for is for this case to be looked at properly. Unless I can speak to George Eustice I don’t believe he can understand what has happened here.”
A crowdfunded campaign to save Geronimo has received backing from celebrities including Joanna Lumley and Chris Packham. On Friday the Sun added its weight by publishing a supportive story on its front page that quoted Macdonald as saying that she would “take a bullet” for the animal.
“It’s bonkers. If there is disease present we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He would have died years ago,” she said, as Geronimo grazed in the background.
The Sun quoted Eustice as saying that his own family had a pedigree herd of cattle and had lost cows to TB, so he knew “how distressing it can be”.
“I have looked at this case several times over the last three years, and gone through all of the evidence with the chief vet and other experts in detail. Sadly, Geronimo has tested positive twice using a highly specific and reliable test,” he said.
Packham, a broadcaster and wildlife activist, tweeted about the issue on Thursday.