Geronimo the alpaca killed after being dragged into van as police surround farm
Geronimo the alpaca has been killed after a desperate bid to save him from ‘execution.’
The animal was dragged away from his pen, struggling on his leash on his final journey.
Protesters wept and had to be held back as police wearing hazard gear bundled him away from his Wickwar, Gloucestershire, farm.
His heartbroken owner, Helen McDonald, earlier today made a desperate last-ditch plea for the authorities to allow Geronimo to live as he was plucked from his Wickwar, Gloucestershire pen.
Avon and Somerset police entered the alpaca’s enclosure, with their actions broadcast on an online live feed of the enclosure.
Other alpacas on the farm, which were not in the same pen, gathered nearby when the commotion started before running off to another part of the farm.
Web cam footage showed Geronimo make a break for freedom from his ‘captors’ before running into a field with other alpacas.
But several officials followed him carrying rope and chased the pack around the meadow.
Geronimo was then lead back into his barn before being dragged into the back of a vehicle as he pulled against his leash.
His death comes just days before a destruction warrant was due to end on September 4.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed his death on Tuesday afternoon, and confirmed a post mortem examination will be carried out.
A statement from authorities on Tuesday said Geronimo was euthanised “as a necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis.”
The government’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “This is a terribly sad situation and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease.
“No one wants to have to cull infected animals if it can be avoided, but we need to follow the scientific evidence and cull animals that have tested positive for bTB to minimise spread of this insidious disease and ultimately eradicate the biggest threat to animal health in this country.
“Not only is this essential to protect the livelihoods of our farming industry and rural communities, but it is also necessary avoid more TB cases in humans.”
Distressed supporters of his owner’s campaign were earlier seen at the farm having to be held back on Tuesday as the animal was taken away.
A We Are Geronimo banner’ set up by campaigners opposing the destruction of the alpaca could be seen in a live feed capturing what are likely to soon be the alpaca’s final moments.
Helen tweeted: “DEFRA have arrived! We are asking once again for an urgent meeting with [Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary] George Eustice. Please don’t execute Geronimo.”
Avon and Somerset Police confirmed earlier officers had arrived at the farm where Geronimo is staying.
The force later confirmed it was supporting the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in executing a court warrant.
A spokesman said: “We’ll always support our partner agencies to carry out their lawful duties, and our role is to prevent a breach of the peace and to ensure public safety is protected.”
His death comes after Defra granted a brief stay of execution, giving Geronimo more time to live.
The animal has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, and Defra ordered he be euthanised.
His owner, who imported him from New Zealand four years ago, believes the tests are returning false positives, but was refused permission to have him tested a third time.
Helen, who claims Defra wants her to kill her beloved alpaca – and do their “dirty work” – has refused to be the one to pull the trigger.
She lost a last-ditch attempt to save him at the High Court earlier this month when the judge rejected her request for an injunction.
Helen previously said: “They expect me to put down my own animal. I’m supposed to arrange his euthanasia and then say that the body will be available from ‘X’ time so they can come and collect it.
“Well I’m just not going to do that. They want me to kill him. The want to say that I consented, and they don’t want his blood on their hands.
“They’re trying to break me down. All of these extensions and faffing around is to wear down my mental state.
“They’ve done it before, I got bullied and threatened and all sorts in 2017. In a two-month period he survived seven attempts to come and kill him.”
Asked if officials could break in, she said the police would let them in as they had a warrant on access.
Helen has received an outpouring of support from the members of the public who oppose plans to kill Geronimo.
Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on Boris Johnson to halt the killing.
Around 30 people – including fellow alpaca farmers who had lost animals in similar circumstances – gathered outside Defra’s headquarters in London recently.
Animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “My thoughts are with Helen Macdonald one of the most bravest & courageous people I know that fought a David & Goliath battle with Defra to save the life of her precious Geronimo.”
Geronimo had spent his final days quietly strolling alone in his pen, with the rest of the pack seen mingling around 200 metres away.
But Helen refused to give in, and was confident of her chances at saving Geronimo’s life to the very end.
She said earlier: “I believe we can get this sorted out, I am looking at the gates, obviously, but I know they’ve lied and I know they’re continuing to lie.
“The world knows that they don’t have the suspicion of disease. And I still believe that something will happen that will stop this and he [Geronimo] can stay here in isolation like he has done for four years.
“That is in the legislation, that is Eustice’s call. And there’s absolutely no reason why he can’t make that.
“What they’re doing is torturing me to set an example to everyone else because they can’t bare to be challenged because they’re incompetent.
“Every time someone does try to challenge them they lock down the legislation a little bit more.”
She continued: “If there’s a disease risk, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. This is about me asking a question and they refuse to answer because they can’t.”
Defra said following Geronimo’s death that a post mortem examination will be undertaken by veterinary pathologists from the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
The process would be followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples from the deceased alpaca, which can take up to three months.