Geronimo the alpaca 'safe for now' ahead of high court review

17 August 2021, 07:40

The public have come out in support of Geronimo.
The public have come out in support of Geronimo. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Famous alpaca Geronimo may not be put down and is "safe for now", ahead of a high court review.

It comes after he tested positive for bovine tuberculosis twice, making him a risk to other animals.

As a result, the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) ordered Geronimo to be put down.

However, an application for a judicial review, including an application for a temporary injunction to stop the enforcement of the destruction order, is set to be considered at the High Court on Tuesday.

Geronimo's owner, Helen Macdonald, has said she believes Geronimo's test results were false positives, but has been refused permission to have him tested a third time.

She told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "Geronimo has not failed a validated test."

"If they gave him the test he was supposed to have had, we wouldn't be having this conversation," she added.

Earlier this month, she lost her final appeal to save her beloved pet at the High Court in London and the warrant was signed for his destruction.

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

Nick Ferrari speaks to owner of condemned alpaca Geronimo

Jan Mugerwa, Ms Mcdonald's solicitor, said: "Defra have agreed to extend their undertaking until 5pm on Tuesday.

"A judge has been assigned to consider tomorrow urgently the question of the injunction and disclosure."

Despite waiting to find out whether they will be granted an injunction, Dr Iain McGill, Geronimo's vet, said the alpaca's immediate future was secure.

"Defra lawyers accept Helen Macdonald's legal application for material non-disclosure," he said.

"Hearing date awaited, but Geronimo safe for now, though Defra only saying they won't kill him today. Shameful."

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"Retest Geronimo! Retest Geronimo! Retest Geronimo!"

Court officials confirmed that the application had been lodged, but had not yet been considered by a judge.

It came after the government insisted last week that all the evidence on the animal's condition had been "looked at very carefully".

A Defra spokesman said: "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.

"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 tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected."

Read more: No evidence Covid vaccines affect ability to have children, regulator says

Geronimo's owner believes he has not failed a validated test.
Geronimo's owner believes he has not failed a validated test. Picture: Alamy

In another attempt to save Geronimo's life, Ms Macdonald's lawyers previously wrote to Environment Secretary George Eustice, suggesting the alpaca could instead be studied for research.

Thousands have come out in support, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling on Boris Johnson to halt the killing.

The British Alpaca Society said the current stand-off between Defra and Ms Macdonald has "considerably undermined confidence" in the voluntary bovine TB testing regime in the UK.

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.

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