Geronimo’s owner calls for urgent meeting with Government

The owner of Geronimo the alpaca has called for an urgent meeting with the Government as time runs out for him to be culled.

Geronimo has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and owner Helen Macdonald believes the tests are returning false positives.

The destruction warrant is valid until September 4 and Ms Macdonald wants the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to allow Geronimo to be tested for a third time or let him live to aid research into the disease.

“With just over a week left on Geronimo’s death warrant, we are still trying to work constructively with Defra on this,” Ms Macdonald said.

“We are requesting an urgent meeting with Environment Secretary George Eustice, and really hope to hear back from Defra later today.

“It is naturally a terribly traumatic time for Geronimo and myself, and everyone else who has been supporting us over the last few weeks.

“But we remain confident that there are ways forward to save Geronimo, and that Defra will find a way to do the right thing.”

Geronimo's owner Helen Macdonald wants further tests on him to be carried out (Jacob King/PA)
Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald wants further tests to be carried out (Jacob King/PA)

This week, more than a dozen vets said they have “grave reservations” about the two positive tests the eight-year-old animal returned in 2017 and that they “may well represent a false positive”.

Ms Macdonald has long 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, who farms alpacas at her home in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, 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.

Geronimo awaits his fate in isolation in South Gloucestershire (Jacob King/PA)
Geronimo awaits his fate in isolation in South Gloucestershire (Jacob King/PA)

Ms Macdonald said that when Defra officials do attend her farm to euthanise Geronimo, she will not break the law.

Supporters have also been camping out at her farm in case officials arrive to destroy him.

They have been receiving regular deliveries of supplies from well-wishers, including tea bags, coffee, sugar, and vegan food.

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.

Supporters are camping out at Helen Macdonald's farm in South Gloucestershire (Jacob King/PA)
Supporters are camping out at Helen Macdonald’s farm in South Gloucestershire (Jacob King/PA)

The Government insists that all the evidence on the animal’s condition has been “looked at very carefully”.

A Defra spokesman said: “We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation – just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.

“While nobody wants to cull animals, we need to do everything we can tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected.”