Owner calls for environment secretary to resign, saying animal ‘was innocent victim of arrogance, ignorance and greed’
Helen Macdonald has called on environment secretary George Eustice to quit, to chants from supporters of “murderer” at a demonstration outside Mr Eustice’s offices.
Ms Macdonald accused government officials of hiding from her how the animal was killed and how they “tortured” him on his final journey.
The alpaca tested negative for bovine TB before being imported in 2017 from New Zealand. He showed no symptoms since then, but Defra insisted he had tested positive so should be culled.
Officials, supported by police, finally led him to his death on 31 august, after a prolonged battle by Ms Macdonald and her veterinary adviser to prove the tests were flawed.
Campaigner Dominic Dyer branded Geronimo’s capture as “one of the most brutal incidents of animal crime in this country I have ever seen”, to cheers from supporters of “shame on Defra”.
Ms Macdonald, a veterinary nurse, accused officials of threatening and intimidating her, and “wheeling out experts” who knew nothing about camelids.
“There is a long list of people who contributed to the barbaric treatment of Geronimo,” Ms Macdonald told the crowd. She claimed they were punishing her for daring to “stand up to their dogma”.
“Geronimo was the innocent victim of arrogance, ignorance and greed," hun sa.
“Geronimo was a blessing in the world,” Ms Macdonald said to more cheers, pledging to fight for him and ensure his legacy lived on for all animals.
Vet Iain McGill outlined how officials had stressed Geronimo to capture him, and had failed to take a proper head harness and to dart him.
The animal was “primed” with tuberculin antibodies, which had caused a false positive, han sa, insisting they had asked to talk to officials but had been rejected.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “A number of TB-like lesions were found, and in line with standard practice, these are now undergoing further investigation.
“These tests include the developing of bacteriological cultures from tissue samples, which usually takes several months – we would expect to complete the full post-mortem and culture process by the end of the year.”
Defra said Ms Macdonald was welcome to get a second opinion on the post-mortem report and government scientists were willing to any answer questions they may have . Ms Middlemiss had made attempts to contact the owner, the department added.