Geronimo the alpaca handed 24-hour reprieve but still faces execution

19 August 2021, 20:45 | Updated: 24 August 2021, 09:51

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Geronimo the alpaca has been handed another 24-hour reprieve but will still be executed, according to his owner.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told Helen Macdonald they would not enforce the animal's destruction before 5pm on Friday, she said.

Geronimo - who was imported from New Zealand - has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, but Ms Macdonald believes the results have been false positives and she has been refused permission to have him tested a third time.

He has received an outpouring of support from the public, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prevent the killing.

Read more: Geronimo the alpaca to be slaughtered after High Court bid fails

Geronimo the alpaca has been handed an extra 24 hours of life
Geronimo the alpaca has been handed an extra 24 hours of life. Picture: Alamy

However, on Wednesday, a High Court judge refused her lawyer's application for a temporary injunction to stop the destruction order and reopen the case.

The owner, who owns a farm at Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, said: "Every day is a new day. There's been masses of emails and everything has been going manic again.

"I've been having this hanging over my head for a really long time and it is not over and we will keep going.

Read more: Alpacas to join march on Downing Street in bid to save Geronimo

"It's exhausting and you have to look at what effect it is having on me and my family.

"The supporters were really angry and upset last night and shocked by the whole story.

"There are really safe solutions, and the government are choosing the worst possible scenario in permanent destruction.

"All farmers want a better deal. He and I represent a farming voice in this country. We have to keep going and hope they come to the table and improve things for everybody."

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

"I've got the world behind me and there are a few detractors who don't understand the case and I would say to those people look at the facts before you comment," she said.

"Defra have a choice. They can either work with us or they can try and kill him in front of the world."

Friends, family and supporters have joined the owner at her farm to protest against the animal's impending fate.

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.

Last week, the government insisted all the evidence on the animal's condition had 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.

"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 £100 million every year.

"Therefore, 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."