Alpaca Geronimo wins temporary reprieve ahead of High Court review

An alpaca facing execution after it tested positive for bovine tuberculosis has been granted a temporary reprieve, its vet says. Ian McGill said that the animal, named Geronimo by his owner Helen Macdonald, is “safe for now”, but stressed that it may still be killed. Geronimo, who was sentenced to death by the government after two positive bovine TB tests, has become centre of a campaign aimed at saving his life.

More than 130,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to intervene in the alpaca’s planned destruction, while supporters have formed a “human shield” around its home. “Breaking news: Defra lawyers accept Helen MacDonald’s legal application for material non-disclosure,” Mr McGill wrote on social media. “Hearing date awaited, but Geronimo safe for now, though Defra only saying they won’t kill him today.

Shameful.” A Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesperson said that there are “no plans to execute the warrant today [Monday]”. “We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation, just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.”

They added that the options for Geronimo have been considered “very carefully” and passed through “several stages of legal scrutiny”.

But Ms Macdonald, who brought Geronimo from New Zealand to her farm in Gloucestershire in 2017, says that the alpaca is healthy and has tried to prevent Defra from killing it. She claims, along with other alpaca farmers and animal welfare campaigners, that the Enferplex tests used to detect bovine TB can easily render false positives because of the tuberculin primer injected into the skin before the test. Defra say the possibility of a false positive is just 0.34 per cent.

Ms Macdonald lost a High Court battle against Defra at the end of July over their decision to euthanise Geronimo that triggered a 30 day window for its destruction starting on 5 August.

This is the second time since then that that window has been temporarily closed.