Geronimo killed: Alpaca "euthanised" after testing positive for bovine tuberculosis

Downing Street has expressed sympathy for Helen Macdonald after her alpaca Geronimo was killed following it twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis.

Three people, who arrived with a police escort, surround Geronimo the Alpaca at Shepherds Close Farm in Wooton Under Edge, Gloucestershire, before the animal was taken away on a trailer to an undisclosed location (Photo: Claire Hayhurst).

In a statement, Defra said Geronimo was moved from the farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday and “euthanised” by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) as a “necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB)”.

Geronimo was at the centre of a legal battle with the government after the Department of Food, Environment and Rursal Affairs (defra) ordered for him to be euthanised.

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Despite the alpaca testing positive for bovine tuberculosis twice, the owner Helen Macdonald believes are false positives.

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Following news of the animal’s death, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our sympathies are with Ms Macdonald and any others that are affected by this terrible disease.”

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “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 now be carried out by veterinary pathologists from the APHA, followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples, which can take up to three months to process.

The news comes two days before the destruction warrant ends on September 4.

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