This devoted rancher is telling the UK government to alpaca their guns: She’d rather die than let them kill her beloved, tuberculosis-positive alpaca.
“I can’t stand by and let my animal be killed, and I’m willing to stand in the way of any gunman who comes to destroy Geronimo,” farmer Helen Macdonald told the Sun of her 6-year-old stud alpaca, Geronimo, who has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. “They’ve picked on the wrong woman. There is no way that I will put him to sleep.”
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) insisted that the animal is legally required to be put down, although Environment Secretary George Eustice said that he understood Macdonald’s emotional response.
“My own family have a pedigree herd of South Devon cattle and have lost cows to TB, so I know how distressing it can be and have huge sympathy for farmers who suffer loss,” Eustice told the Sun. “I have looked at this case several times over the last three years, and gone through all of the evidence with the chief vet and other experts in detail. Sadly, Geronimo has tested positive twice using a highly specific and reliable test.”
However, Macdonald — a veterinary nurse — insisted both tests were faulty and has waged a legal battle in the UK’s High Court in defense of Geronimo’s life.
“If Geronimo did have TB he should have been dead by now. Alpacas with TB only last a few months, but it’s been more than four years since he allegedly tested positive,” Macdonald said, calling her fight for Geronimo a “personal battle between DEFRA and myself.”
Eustice is set to send in a team to exterminate Geronimo as early as this weekend.
The public appears to be on Macdonald’s side: More than 80,000 people have signed a petition to save Geronimo, despite the evidence that he is infected with the contagious disease and has been in quarantine since his 2017 arrival in the UK from New Zealand.
While unlikely, it is possible for humans to become infected with bovine tuberculosis.