Geronimo the alpaca culled after testing positive for bovine tuberculosis

Downing Street expresses sympathy for animal's owner after Geronimo euthanised by UK Government vets.

Geronimo the alpaca culled after testing positive for bovine tuberculosis Tom Wren via SWNS

Geronimo the alpaca has been culled by UK Government vets carrying out a court-ordered destruction warrant.

The animal was rounded up on Tuesday morning as other alpacas watched on from a nearby field, before being loaded into a trailer, which then left the farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire.

Defra said Geronimo was euthanised by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in order to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

Geronimo had twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and a destruction warrant has been ordered for the animal, although owner Helen Macdonald believed the tests had returned false positives and thousands of members of the public backed her plea to halt his culling.

Downing Street has expressed sympathy for Helen Macdonald, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman saying: “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.”

Geronimo’s owner accused UK Government vets of “murdering a perfectly healthy animal”.

Helen Macdonald insists that bovine tuberculosis tests previously carried out on the alpaca returned false positives and has been campaigning for his destruction to be halted.

She is now calling for an independent witness to be present when a post-mortem examination is carried out on Geronimo, who came to the UK from New Zealand in 2017.

The veterinary nurse described herself as “shocked and disgusted” at how the Government had acted and called for environment secretary George Eustice to come to her farm and give an explanation.

“They have murdered a perfectly healthy animal from New Zealand,” Ms Macdonald said.

“I wasn’t even here, they just stormed the place. They took him from here alive, they shouldn’t have done that – it was cruel.

“My understanding was that they had the right to come and destroy Geronimo however they felt appropriate.

“They did not have the right to drag him into a horsebox and drive him away, on his own, without his companions. They rounded up the rest of them and stressed them all out, then they dragged and took him away.

“That’s not animal welfare, that’s animal cruelty.”

Ms Macdonald had called on Defra to allow Geronimo to be tested for a third time or let him live to aid research into the disease.

She has argued that the Enferplex test is fundamentally flawed and says Geronimo tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria.

The veterinary nurse has received support from around the world – with more than 140,000 people signing a petition against Geronimo’s destruction.

Earlier this month, a High Court judge refused her lawyer’s application for a temporary injunction to stop the destruction order and reopen the case.

As well as alpacas, badgers have been a victim of the fight against bovine TB, with mass culling employed to stop the spread since 2013, sparking a huge public backlash.

More on