- A sick alpaca named Geronimo was killed by the UK government on Tuesday, the BBC reported.
- Geronimo twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, which is highly infectious among livestock.
- The animal’s owner tried and failed in court to prevent the killing earlier in August.
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Geronimo – the sick alpaca that twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and was at the center of a long legal battle to save its life – was killed by UK health officials on Tuesday, the BBC reported.
Staff from the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) extracted Geronimo, who became a British sensation, from its farm near Bristol, England at around 11 a.m. local time and put the animal in a trailer as the scene was broadcast on TV, BBC reported.
“I am absolutely disgusted by this government,” said Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald. “These are barbaric actions. It’s a disgrace.”
Geronimo was condemned to death earlier this year after he twice tested positive for the bovine disease, which is highly infectious and leads to the slaughter of thousands of livestock in the UK each year.
The farm’s owner, Helen Macdonald, tried and failed to halt the killing in court earlier in August, and was told she had one day to kill the animal herself. When she didn’t do that, DEFRA gave a warrant for executioners to enter Macdonald’s farm sometime before September 4 to look for Geronimo.
The saga sparked a debate in the UK about whether or not the government killing is justified. High-profile animal rights activists and demonstrators have opposed the execution.
After DEFRA authorized the warrant to kill Geronimo, a group of supporters called the “Alpaca Angels” tried to use a tactic right out of the movie “Spartacus” to confuse government agents by hiding Geronimo among four other identical-looking alpacas at the farm.
Many supporters remained at Macdonald’s farm when the government arrived, the report said, and one woman was arrested and later released after she sprayed police officers with a water pistol.
Macdonald told the BBC that the government refused to act in good faith and ignored requests for constructive dialogue.
“In fact, all the time they were simply planning to murder Geronimo. This is yet another appalling demonstration of bad faith and duplicity by the secretary of state and everyone at DEFRA,” she told the BBC.
She claimed in court that Geronimo is a healthy alpaca, insisting that his test results were false positives because he was primed with a tuberculin vaccine beforehand.
UK’s Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) rejected her claim and fact-checkers say it is unlikely that the tests came back with false positives.
“Not only is this essential to protect the livelihoods of our farming industry and rural communities, but it is also necessary to avoid more TB cases in humans,” chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss told the BBC.