National & International

Geronimo – to live or die

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Geronimo the alpaca, who is condemned to death, is now the most famous animal in the United Kingdom, according to the Insider.

Geronimo is at the centre of a fierce political debate: should he be euthanised, or should the Government change tack and spare his life?

He’s inspired a march on the prime minister’s official residency, a petition with more than 125,000 signatures, and has dominated headlines for over a week.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has ordered him to be put down, and a High Court judge rejected his owner’s final appeal to keep him alive, consequently starting the timer on a 30-day “kill window.”

DEFRA says Geronimo must die because he has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis —an infectious disease that leads to the slaughter of thousands of cattle every year, and that humans are susceptible to too.

His owner, Helen Macdonald, who cares for Geronimo on her smallholding in Gloucestershire, insists that his results returned false positives because he was primed with a tuberculin vaccine beforehand.

DEFRA rejects this claim, and fact-checkers say it is unlikely that the tests gave a false positive.

Macdonald also claims that results from an advanced phage PCR blood test, which Geronimo reportedly had before arriving in the UK from New Zealand, proved that the alpaca doesn’t have bovine TB.

But DEFRA, which has not yet approved the widespread use of these tests, has rejected her request to test Geronimo again.

This has led to backlash from high-profile animal rights activists, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own father.

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