Environment Secretary: Culling Geronimo the alpaca was the right decision

17 September 2021, 10:09

By Tim Dodd

Environment Secretary George Eustice has defended the culling of Geronimo the alpaca who tested positive for Bovine TB, saying there must be "consistency in our fight against TB".

The beloved pet was killed by government vets in August after he twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

Nick Ferrari asked: "You’re a good bloke, I like talking with you, but are you the man who needlessly killed Geronimo the alpaca?"

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Mr Eustice replied: "These cases are always difficult... But the truth is he had tested positive for Bovine TB using a test called the Enferplex test, which very rarely has false positives.

"Now the owner at that point said she was unsure about the results, would we give her a second test. We don’t really do that but vets, to do her a favour said, okay we’ll give you a second test, that also came back positive and then she said well now I want a third test.

"I think at that point the danger of just relentlessly testing is you will at some point get what is called a false negative and that is that it will tell you it’s clear, when it’s not.

"So difficult though it is – and I know she was very attached to Geronimo – we do have to maintain consistency in our fight against TB and a post-mortem - they did find TB-like lesions."

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Nick then asked: "Has the full post-mortem been made available to Geronimo’s owner?"

"Yes," Mr Eustice replied.

"It showed that they have what they call atypical lesions – TB-like lesions I think in the liver, in the lymph as well and not in the lungs – and I think on that basis she’s claimed that he didn’t have TB but there were TB-like lesions.

"My own family who have cattle have lost show cattle, excellent cattle they wanted to show, through this terrible disease and it is difficult but necessary.

“My family have a pedigree herd of South Devon cattle. They’re wonderful, gentle animals native to the west country, but yes a few years ago we had an outbreak of TB and my father was very distraught."

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