Great Britain – Alpaca Geronimo put to sleep after weeks of fighting

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The emotions around Geronimo boiled up in England until the very end. Now animal rights activists are left behind – the animal had to die.

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The alpaca Geronimo suffered from bovine tuberculosis.

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Her owner Helen Macdonald fought for the alpaca until the very end.

Her owner Helen Macdonald fought for the alpaca until the very end.

Getty Images

The protests were big across the country.

The protests were big across the country.

  • An alpaca sparked a huge debate in England.

  • All over England people took to the streets to save Geronimo.

  • Even a last-minute escape attempt was unsuccessful.

Even a last-minute escape attempt was unsuccessful: after a long argument, the alpaca Geronimo was killed in England. The animal was euthanized to prevent the spread of the deadly and contagious bovine tuberculosis, said the Department of Agriculture in London on Tuesday. “Nobody wants to have to kill infected animals if it can be avoided,” said Christine Middlemiss, the agency’s chief veterinarian. But there was no alternative. Geronimo’s owner sees it differently. Helen Macdonald asked for another and – according to her statements – more precise test until the end.

The Geronimo case had caused a stir in Great Britain for weeks and even kept Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s family in suspense. Father Stanley Johnson campaigned publicly for the little camel, and the hopes of Geronimo’s supporters rested on Johnson’s wife Carrie, a committed animal rights activist. Almost 150,000 people signed a petition calling for the alpaca to be saved. There was a demonstration in London, and a self-appointed citizen militia kept vigil in the courtyard in the western English village of Wickwar.

Insults, abuse and water pistol attack

But ultimately in vain. Geronimo was put to sleep on Tuesday, and the tabloid “Sun” spoke of the implementation of a “death sentence”. This was preceded by dramatic scenes on Macdonald’s farm. In the morning, employees of the Ministry of Agriculture arrived in protective clothing – with police escort. Macdonald had originally announced martially that he would throw a ball in the way for Geronimo himself.

Now it went off more lightly. A woman shot an officer at close range with a water pistol and was temporarily arrested. Otherwise, there were loud insults and abuse. For a short time Geronimo managed to escape his captors. But in the end the animal was caught and maneuvered into a trailer. A few hours later, the ministry announced completion. “The infected animal was removed from the farm and euthanized by employees of the animal and phytosanitary authority as a necessary measure to combat the spread of bovine tuberculosis,” said the authority.

More than 27,000 infected cattle were killed

“We have to stick to the scientific evidence and cull animals that have tested positive for bovine tuberculosis,” said senior veterinarian Middlemiss. Ultimately, the important goal is to «eradicate the greatest threat to animal health in this country». Indeed, UK farmers are severely affected by the disease. In 2020 alone, more than 27,000 infected cattle had to be killed.

“For years, badgers have been allowed to cull at certain times and in designated areas, as they can also transmit the disease – this, too, repeatedly provokes loud protests. The practice is slated to expire by 2022, despite protests from farmers. However, alternatives are not yet ready to be decided.

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(dpa/fos)

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