Why was Geronimo the alpaca put down?
Geronimo the alpaca has been removed from his farm in Gloucestershire and killed as vets carried out a warrant issued by a court following two positive tests for bovine tuberculosis, Defra said.
Uniformed police helped officials wearing masks and blue overalls take the animal from his pen at the farm in Wickwar, watched by the media and campaigners.
“The infected animal was moved from the premises and euthanised by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) as a necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis,” the department said in a statement.
Dramatic pictures then showed Geronimo being dragged into a trailer and taken away.
His owner, owner, Helen Macdonald, tweeted a last minute plea, saying: “DEFRA have arrived! We are asking once again for an urgent meeting with George Eustice. Please don’t execute Geronimo.”
Defra was granted a warrant to euthanise the alpaca within 30 days of 5 August, but Ms Macdonald argues that the testing is flawed and that her animal is healthy.
Police could been seen arriving with a horse-box style vehicle and webcam footage showed Geronimo making a break for freedom and running into a field to join his fellow alpacas.
Several officers then followed him with a rope, chased the pack around the meadow, and finally led Geronimo back into his barn.
Two officers were also seen engaging with members of the public next to a We Are Geronimo banner, set up by campaigners opposing the destruction of the animal.
Defra chief vet Christine Middlemiss said: “This is a terribly sad situation and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease.
“No one wants to have to cull infected animals if it can be avoided, but we need to follow the scientific evidence and cull animals that have tested positive for bTB to minimise spread of this insidious disease and ultimately eradicate the biggest threat to animal health in this country.
“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.”
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We can confirm officers are in attendance at a farm in the Wickwar area of South Gloucestershire this morning to support the Animal and Plant Health Agency, who are executing a court warrant.
“We’ll always support our partner agencies to carry out their lawful duties, and our role is to prevent a breach of the peace and to ensure public safety is protected.”
On Monday, Ms Macdonald told The Independent: “I’ve been made an example of and it’s the most cruel horrible thing you could do. I’m sitting here waiting for guns to turn up, it’s just wicked.”
Animal lovers reacted to the distressing news, with Susie Kenward tweeting: “I witnessed them dragging him away live on the webcam… I’m so very distressed for Geronimo and you Helen..xx”
Another, Heather McKenna, said: “Barricade him. Don’t let them do this!”
Animal campaigner, Dominic Dyer, said: “My thoughts are with Helen Macdonald one of the most bravest & courageous people I know that fought a David & Goliath battle with Defra to save the life of her precious Geronimo.”