An alpaca called Geronimo at the center of a legal battle between its owners and the British government has been killed.
Geronimo tested twice for bovine tuberculosis (bTB), which led to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) ordering him to be euthanized.
Owner Helen Macdonald disputed the test results and mounted several High Court challenges to save Geronimo.
In a statement Tuesday, Defra said a court warrant had been issued “to enter premises for the purposes of removing the bTB-positive alpaca known as ‘Geronimo’. 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.” According to Defra, in 2020 alone, bTB resulted in more than 27,000 cattle having to be slaughtered to curb its spread.
Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said in the Defra statement that it was “a terribly sad situation and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease.”
“I am absolutely disgusted by this government. These are barbaric actions. It’s a disgrace,” said Macdonald, the BBC reported.
Geronimo’s fate had become a major issue in the U.K.
According to the Guardian, supporters of Geronimo — known as “the Alpaca Angels” — said the animal made distressed noises as vets placed a rope around its neck and drove it away from Macdonald’s farm near Bristol.
A petition to save the animal received over 140,000 signatures, with one of Geronimo’s more high-profile supporters being Stanley Johnson, father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.