‘All the time they were simply planning to murder him’: Geronimo’s devastated owner blasts DEFRA and demands a witness at alpaca’s post-mortem after he was dragged away from her farm under police escort and executed
- Geronimo the alpaca has been executed after Defra officials today seized the animal and drove him away
- Police clashed with animal rights protesters defending the alpaca at the farm in Wickwar this morning
- The High Court ruled Geronimo must be destroyed for testing positive for bovine tuberculosis twice
- But its owner Helen Macdonald has long insisted that the Enferplex test used on the alpaca is flawed
Geronimo the alpaca’s devastated owner has slammed Defra’s ‘bad faith and duplicity’ and demanded an independent witness be present at his post-mortem after he was today seized from his Gloucestershire farm by a Government team in boiler suits and masks and executed.
Helen Macdonald, a veterinary nurse who brought Geronimo to England from New Zealand in 2017, accused Environment Secretary George Eustice and other senior Defra officials of ignoring her pleas for ‘constructive dialogue’ for two weeks.
The four-year battle to save Geronimo after he twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis ended this morning and the sad moment he was tied up and carted away was captured by the live webcam set up to watch the South American mammal a month ago.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed around an hour later they had put the animal down, just days before the destruction warrant it won at the High Court expired.
A post-mortem will be undertaken by veterinary pathologists from the from the premises and euthanised by staff from the Animal. Defra said this will be followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples, which can take up to three months.
Speaking at her farm in Wickwar, Miss Macdonald said: ‘All the time they were simply planning to murder Geronimo. This is yet another appalling demonstration of bad faith and duplicity by the Secretary of State and everyone at Defra.’
She added that she is ‘absolutely disgusted’ with the Government, which she said had used a ‘falsified test that has no validity’ on the alpaca.
Police clashed with protesters defending the alpaca at the farm this morning as more than 30 uniformed officers and Defra officials tied a rope around Geronimo before dragging him to a trailer and driving him away for destruction.
‘This morning, Geronimo has been manhandled out of my farm,’ Miss Macdonald said. Asked how force was used, she replied: ‘You’ll have to ask the poor witnesses that witnessed him being rounded up and dragged into a horsebox. These are barbaric actions of unscientific, abusive people in Government.’
She called for Mr Eustace and Lord Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defra, to go to the farm to speak to her, as well as an independent witness to be present when a post-mortem examination is carried out on the alpaca.
‘Over the last two weeks we have tried to engage constructively and persistently with George Eustice, Lord Benyon, George Eustice’s special advisors, senior Defra civil servants and multiple MPs and government scientists,’ she said. ‘Now we know they were not only ignoring our persistent pleas for constructive dialogue, but had no intention of engaging with us.’
Defra said the alpaca was euthanised by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency in order to control the spread of TB. Miss Macdonald insists his positive tests were false. A Defra spokesman confirmed that Geronimo has never tested negative for bovine TB, and that another test for the disease will be conducted during the post-mortem.
Webcam footage showed Geronimo make a break for freedom from his ‘captors’ and run into a field with other alpacas. Its supporters – the ‘Alpaca Angels’, who have kept watch over the stud – previously vowed to thwart the executioners by using deploy (think that should be ‘decoy’ – WAV) alpacas.
Geronimo has been in isolation, but four similar-looking alpacas are in an adjacent field with an open gate in between. Today, several officials followed the alpaca carrying rope and chased the pack around the meadow. Geronimo was then lead back into his barn before he was taken into a horsebox and driven away under police escort.
Supporters had been camping out at the 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 arrested after spraying officers with a water pistol, but was quickly de-arrested. Others sobbed after Geronimo was rounded up and driven away, and accused Defra of breaking the law.
Miss Macdonald, who previously vowed to stand in front of a marksman to protect him, was nowhere to be seen as the alpaca was taken away.
She claimed she had been ‘duped’ by the Government and had expected Defra vets to give Geronimo a stay of execution. But when police arrived, Miss Macdonald said she had no choice but to leave as she ‘would have been arrested for obstruction’. She also claimed that Defra ‘will try and fudge the post-mortem’, calling it a ‘complete set-up’.
Miss Macdonald insists the Enferplex test is flawed and says Geronimo twice tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria. She 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. The Government said 27,000 cattle were slaughtered in 2020 to curb the spread of the disease.
Pen Farthing’s friend Dominic Dyer, an animal rights campaigner, tweeted: ‘My thoughts are with Helen Macdonald one of the most bravest & courageous people I know that fought a David & Goliath battle with Defra to save the life of her precious Geronimo’.
Downing Street has expressed sympathy for Miss 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.’
In a statement, 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.’
The destruction warrant was valid until Saturday, September 4 and Miss Macdonald had previously called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to allow Geronimo to be tested for a third time or let him live to aid research into the disease.
One supporter named Ray Puttock said despite the tragic news, the Geronimo saga has brought many supporters together. He said: ‘We’ve all become very good friends here. People here weren’t my friends when they turned up, now they’ll always be my friends.’
On the heavy police presence, he said: ”I tried coming in two different ways and got stopped at both. I saw five cars and three police motorbikes. That’s without the vehicles that were here.
‘It would be very interesting to ask the Avon and Somerset control room today ‘how grade one many grade one blue shouts were you unable to attend because of all the officers that were at the alpacas?’
‘They are assisting the state, they are not assisting the people, the community they’re supposed to serve. Just disgraceful.’
An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman 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.’
A Defra spokesman refused to comment on ‘operational matters’ when approached by MailOnline, but said in a statement: ‘We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation – just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.
‘It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny.
‘Bovine tuberculosis is one of the greatest animal health threats we face today and causes devastation and distress for farming families and rural communities across the country while costing the taxpayer around £100million every year.
‘Therefore, while nobody wants to cull animals, we need to do everything we can to tackle this disease, stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected.’
Miss Macdonald said: ‘I fled, if I had stayed there they would have arrested me for obstruction. That would have played into their hands because I wouldn’t have been able to keep fighting for him. They took him alive – we’ve been totally duped. It’s an outrage.’
‘We don’t know where they’ve taken him but there are still a few hours to try to save his life. We have got to get this stopped.’
She sent a text message to reporters at the farm which said: ‘They took him alive, get after Defra’. Her Twitter account @alpacapower posted: ‘DEFRA have arrived! We are asking once again for an urgent meeting with George Eustice. Please don’t execute Geronimo.’
Campaigner Graham Edwards, 54, said: ‘They have broken their own laws and protocols – if the animal has TB they are not allowed to move it. It should have been slaughtered here but they wouldn’t do it because there are cameras here to record everything that happened.’
Mr Edwards, from Reading, has spent two weeks camping at the farm, said: ‘They came mob-handed – there were more than 30 police here. They pushed through a fence, they came to do a job and there was no stopping them. I was told the vets were Spanish – not even English.
‘It was supposed to have been put down here, not taken away. We didn’t expect them to take it away. They are a bunch of hypocrites – I’m gutted, we all are.’
More than a dozen leading vets called on the Government to halt the culling of Geronimo after questioning his tuberculosis diagnosis, and instead urged the animal to be studied for science.
The 13 vets – who include a former senior official at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – said they had ‘grave reservations’ about the two positive tests the animal returned in 2017 and they ‘may well represent a false positive’.
Among the signatories to the letter are Professor Ranald Munroe, former head of pathology for Defra’s Veterinary Laboratories Agency and Dr Iain McGill, veterinary scientific adviser to Ms Macdonald.
In the letter, they write: ‘It is our professional opinion that the diagnosis in Geronimo’s case is unsafe, and may well represent a false positive, due to the fact that Geronimo had been repeatedly ‘antibody boosted’ or primed – five times in his lifetime with four injections of bovine tuberculin and one of avian tuberculin in the run up to the final Enferplex blood test which confirmed the ‘positive’ diagnosis of ‘suspicion of disease’.’
They said Mr Eustice had the power to overturn Geronimo’s destruction warrant and order he be observed for scientific research.
‘We could learn a great deal from Geronimo were he to be compassionately studied, but very little from his death,’ they said.
‘We believe Geronimo’s case shines a light on the shortcomings of the current bTB testing policy, and gives an opportunity for a comprehensive review of the bovine TB testing and control policy, based on science and for the health and wellbeing of farmers, cattle, alpacas, badgers, the environment and the public.
‘Given the mental anguish that Helen MacDonald has had to endure these past four years, and the publicity surrounding the case, we would urge Secretary of State for Defra, George Eustice and his team to discuss matters with us and Ms MacDonald to find a way out of this impasse.’
Miss Macdonald had called for an urgent meeting with the Government, pleading: ‘We are requesting an urgent meeting with Environment Secretary George Eustice, and really hope to hear back from Defra.
‘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.’
Last 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’.
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.
Miss Macdonald said that when Defra officials do attend her farm to euthanise Geronimo, she would 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.
The Government insists that all the evidence on the animal’s condition has been ‘looked at very carefully’.
See lots of pictures on the Geronimo murder at:
Geronimo’s devastated owner demands a witness at alpaca’s post-mortem | Daily Mail Online
2 thoughts on “England: ‘Geronimo’ Has Been Murdered By The British Government and Sucked Up To By Ministry Vets. A VERY Big Mistake For The Future, And Government Hopes Of Re Election. George Eustace and Vet Middlemiss Need Their Butts Kicked Hard – And They Will Get It.”
i AM TOTALLY DISGUSTED WITH GEORGE EUSTICE AND ALL HIS MINIONS FOR MURDERING GERONIMO. I strongly suspect there will be a huge backlash when the tests confirm he does not have bTB and never has had it. DEFRA are supposed to be testing him post mortem but I would not trust anything they said.
I hav just seen the video of Geronimo running arund trying to escape his captors. He was obviously terrified and the way he was dragged into the horsebox was absolutely gut-wrenching. The cruelty involved was DESPICABLE.