The animal tested positive for bovine tuberculosis twice, and as a result, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has sentenced the alpaca to death.
His owner, Helen Macdonald, imported her beloved pet from New Zealand. She believes the tests were returning false positives but has been refused permission to have him tested a third time. The barrister said the publicity had led the Daily Mail to find the owners of nine other camelids who were tested under the same regime, whose animals showed no signs of the disease after slaughter.
A spokesperson for Defra said on Wednesday: “There are no plans to execute the warrant today. 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.
Helen Macdonald holds tightly onto Geronimo the alpacaPA
“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 £100 million every year.
“Therefore, while nobody wants to cull infected animals, we need to do everything we can to tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected.”
Macdonald, who owns a farm at Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, has received an outpouring of support from the public, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling on Boris Johnson to halt the killing.
At court on Wednesday, the judge refused the urgent application and concluded there was “no prospect” of Macdonald succeeding in her bid to reopen a previous ruling.
The news has triggered an outpouring of sadness on social media.
@0ldoini I agree with you, I’m pretty heartbroken by the news. I feel really sad for the owner. To someone, it may… https://t.co/9kTmxQ8iEr