The ‘devastated’ owner of Geronimo the alpaca has spoken out after a four year battle to save his life finally came to and end.
Footage shows the condemned animal being dragged away by officials and police from his farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire with a rope around his neck.
He was then loaded into a horsebox, taken away under police escort and then executed. A destruction warrant for the animal was due to expire on Saturday.
Geronimo had tested positive twice for bovine tuberculosis, but more than 140,000 supporters have signed a petition insisting they are false positives.
In the end, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had refused to have him tested a third time or to let him live to aid research into the disease.
Vets will now carry out a post-mortem to discover if Geronimo really did have the disease, but results could take three months to come through.
Now the alpaca’s owner has spoken to the media about the grief of losing her beloved companion.
In a statement, Helen Macdonald said: ‘I’m absolutely devastated to report that Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have taken Geronimo away by force this morning.
‘They have refused to inform me where they have taken him. As far as I understand, Geronimo is still alive, all alone in a trailer, heading somewhere, absolutely terrified, taken from his herd where he’s lived for four years.’
She said despite trying to work with the likes of Environment Secretary George Eustice and Defra and several other MPs and government scientists, her plea for an alternative solution fell on deaf ears.
Helen added: ‘The Government have refused to engage in good faith. We now know they have been stringing us along for the last week. Fobbing us off by saying people are on holiday and would get back to us this week.
‘Now we know that they were not only ignoring our consistent pleas for constructive dialogue but had no intention of engaging with us.
‘In fact, all the time they were simply planning to murder Geronimo. This is yet another apaling demonstration of bad faith and duplicity by the secretary of state and everyone at Defra.
‘I’m absolutely disgusted by this government, they know that they set him up four years ago with incompetence and bullying and a falsified test which has no validity.
‘These are barbaric actions of unscientific abusive people in government and taxpayers are paying for this.’
Helen, 50, said she had to leave the farm because had she stayed she would have been prosecuted for obstruction if she failed to capture Geronimo herself.
She said there was no way she was laying her hands on the ‘healthy animal’ and ‘allow the Government to murder him’ as it would go against ‘her code of conduct’ as a registered veterinary nurse.
Helen added: ‘We have known for the four years that the science is flawed, and what they did to them was deliberately manipulate a test to suit their agenda.’
She says that if no independent witness is present at Geronimo’s post-mortem then she will ‘know that they will be fudging the post-mortem results to create a suspicion of confirmed disease so they can say he caught TB in New Zealand six years ago’.
Helen denies that Geronimo was ever exposed to the disease and insists the other animals on her farm are perfectly safe.
Expressing sympathy, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘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.’
The UK’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 avoid more TB cases in humans.’
Defra said a post-mortem examination will be carried out by veterinary pathologists from its Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) wing.
Supporters had been camping out at Helen’s farm to try to prevent officials arriving to destroy Geronimo and some were seen talking to police as the animal was removed.
One woman was briefly arrested after spraying officers with a water pistol, but was quickly de-arrested.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: ‘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 (APHA), 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.’
Geronimo’s owner had argued that the Enferplex test is fundamentally flawed and said Geronimo tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria.
Earlier this month, a High Court judge refused Helen’s 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.
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