Geronimo the alpaca’s owner claims government ‘hiding the truth’ over killing

‘I am still in shock at the needless and horrific torture’

Joe Middleton
Tuesday 07 September 2021 21:55
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Moment police lead Geronimo the alpaca away to be executed

The owner of Geronimo has accused the government of “hiding the truth” over the killing of the animal and said “no compassion” was shown to her pet.

The alpaca - who twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis - was euthanised on 31 August after police officers and Defra officials attended Helen Macdonald’s farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire.

The animal was killed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha), Defra confirmed, but Ms Macdonald claims she has received scant information about where and how Geronimo died.

She also claims that she has been denied an independent post-mortem examination.

“I am still in shock at the needless and horrific torture of Geronimo by Apha officials,” Ms Macdonald said.

“Their vets chose to treat him in an unnecessarily brutal way by not using an alpaca head collar, as the world saw.

“They dragged and suffocated him before tying him up using a short rope in the horse box, leaving him alone and terrified.

“There was absolutely no compassion or duty of care shown. This has been my experience for four years.

“The bullying and heavy handed tactics of Defra has astounded me.”

Ms Macdonald was campaigning for the destruction to be halted after insisting the bovine tuberculosis tests previously carried out returned false positives.

She had wanted him to be tested for a third time or allowed to live to aid research into the disease.

“Instead, they chose to threaten and abuse me for asking a fair question. When they could not enforce their will on me, they turned it on Geronimo in the cruellest way possible,” she said.

“They absolutely refused to consider positive solutions that were consistently presented to them. Is this what our government stands for?

“The government are still refusing to be honest and transparent, denying me the right to know when, where and how Geronimo died and refusing to allow an independent post-mortem examination.

“We live in a democracy where information should be freely available, and the government should be willing to listen to other points of view and recommendations.

“They are using their considerable powers to hide the truth.”

A protest outside Defra HQ in central London is planned for Wednesday.

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 to avoid more TB cases in humans.”

Additional reporting by PA

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