You may remember Geronimo, the alpaca, who was slaughtered after a long-running battle between Helen Macdonald, his owner, and Defra which claimed that he had tuberculosis. Geronimo’s owner claimed that he did not because the Defra test was inaccurate. She made that perfectly clear and at the time had a very good argument to justify a further test using a better method which she could provide.
Defra rejected her pleas. At the end of August last year officials accompanied by police arrived at her farm near Wickwar in Gloucestershire and dragged Geronimo away surrounded by four veterinarians in hazmat suits.
Today, the Daily Mail reports that further tests have been carried out after Geronimo’s euthanasia to establish whether he genuinely did suffer from bovine tuberculosis at the time. The test had been finalised and they show NO TRACES OF THE DISEASE.
The test in September after Geronimo was put down was said to be inconclusive as to whether he had the infectious disease. Defra has said that its vets had discovered TB-like lesions in the animal’s liver and lymph nodes.
MacDonald has consistently said that the tests were returning false positives and were inaccurate but she was consistently refused permission to use a different and more accurate test.
Animal activists were unable to prevent Geronimo’s slaughter, which we now know was entirely unnecessary.
You may remember that cruel picture of Geronimo being dragged into the back of a horse box and driven off by a 4×4 with the number plate blacked out. It was a distressing sight to animal advocates and lovers and anybody really with an ounce of decency in them.
I have always felt that Helen Macdonald knew more about Geronimo’s health and bovine tuberculosis than the officials at Defra. She was more switched on and she’s been proved right sadly though after the loss of her beloved alpaca.
At the time, Macdonald told The Times that she was devastated and she demanded that an independent witness be present at the post-mortem. It appears that the post-mortem has not yet been conducted. It will be conducted by veterinary pathologists from Apha followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples which could take up to 3 months.
Macdonald appears to have been vindicated and I hope that she sues for compensation. That will be a very difficult claim to make. However, she has a very strong case I would argue.