The authorities of the United Kingdom have euthanized an alpaca, Gerónimo, on Tuesday after its owner denounced that the animal was forcibly removed from its home in Gloucestershire, to the anguish of its owners and followers.
A team of four veterinarians from the British Ministry of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) took the animal, which had twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and whose fate has divided the United Kingdom, from Shepherds Close Farm, near Wickwar in South Gloucestershire. Along with them, at least ten police officers, who have closed the roads that allow access to the farm, preventing the media from approaching the farm.
Witnesses, followers of Gerónimo known as “the angels of the alpaca”, have said that the animal made distressing noises while veterinarians wrapped a rope around its neck, put it on a horse trailer and took it away.
The fate of the animal was unclear, but DEFRA has confirmed that Gerónimo has been euthanized by the staff of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) as a “necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB)”.
The chief of veterinary services, Christine Middlemiss, has called it “a terribly sad situation” and has shown her support to “all those affected by this devastating disease.”
“Nobody wants to have to euthanize infected animals if it can be avoided, but we have to stick to scientific evidence and euthanize animals that have tested positive for bovine tuberculosis to minimize the spread of this insidious disease and ultimately instance, eradicate the greatest threat to animal health in this country ”, he also said.
“This is not only essential to protect our agricultural industry and rural communities, but it is also essential to prevent more cases of tuberculosis in humans,” he said.
DEFRA has said APHA vets would conduct an examination post mortem, followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples, the process of which can take up to three months.
The owner defends that she was healthy
The owner of Gerónimo, Helen macdonald, a veterinary nurse, says that the tests were faulty and that the eight-year-old alpaca was perfectly healthy.
Speaking at the farm, in front of a large banner that read “We are Gerónimo”, Macdonald told reporters that the alpaca had been taken “by force”.
“Over the past two weeks we have tried to engage constructively and persistently with George Eustice, Lord Benyon, George Eustice’s special advisers, senior Defra officials, and various parliamentarians and government scientists, and have proposed a different path to them that allow the government to address its stated priorities in the fight against bovine tuberculosis and also save Gerónimo’s life. The government has refused to commit in good faith. ”
“Now we know that they have not only ignored our constant request for dialogue, but that they had no intention of engaging with us. In fact, they have not stopped planning the assassination of Geronimo,” Macdonald added.
The owner fought the decision in court and begged the UK Government to allow the animal to be re-examined. More than 130,000 people had signed a petition asking for his life to be spared and this Tuesday a “human shield” of defenders of the animals has been located around the corral of Geronimo, in the south of Gloucestershire.
But after a judge from the Superior Court of Justice would again fail against of Macdonald, the Government said that Geronimo had to be sacrificed. The order was to end on September 4.
Avon and Somerset Police had earlier confirmed that “officers are present at a farm in the Wickwar area of south Gloucestershire this morning to support the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which are executing a court order.”
“We will always support our partner agencies to fulfill their legal duties, and our role is to prevent a breach of the peace and to ensure the protection of public safety,” they say.
Translated by Emili Serra.