Boris Johnson asked to save alpaca from slaughter

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Helen Macdonald and Geronimo
Image caption,
Owner Helen Macdonald says she is going through hell because of the decision to cull Geronimo

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to intervene and save the life of an alpaca that is due to be slaughtered on Thursday.

Helen Macdonald lost a High Court appeal to prevent her stud alpaca, Geronimo, from being killed after he tested positive twice for bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

A petition addressed to the Mr Johnson has attracted more than 5,000 signatures.

The Cabinet Office has been approached.

The veterinary nurse, who breeds the species at her farm in Wickwar, south Gloucestershire, has been locked in a legal battle with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) since 2017.

After losing her original High Court bid in 2019, a district judge signed a destruction order in May to allow the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) to seize Geronimo.

'Serious consequences'

Ms Macdonald's most recent attempt to get a reprieve for the six-year-old was rejected last month by a judge, Mr Justice Griffiths, who said there was a need to protect against the "serious consequences" of bTB.

The second warrant to be issued for the death of the alpaca from New Zealand is due to begin on Thursday.

Ms Macdonald has said the Prime Minister may be the only chance to "reverse the decision".

"They (Defra) won't hear me," Ms Macdonald said.

"We're asking Boris Johnson to intervene to sort this out and stop the slaughter order.

"The entire industry is up in arms because this really is the senseless destruction of an innocent animal.

"They have a choice here. They don't have to kill him; they could at least test him first."

'Beautiful animal'

Ms Macdonald added: "I just want him (Geronimo) to be properly tested, with an approved test, and then if he was to test positive, I'd of course agree to put him down.

"They are putting me through hell."

Wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham has also tweeted his support for Geronimo.

On Monday, he called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to stop the killing, stating that Defra would be "killing a beautiful animal which is not diseased".

A Defra spokesperson said: "We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald's situation, just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.

"It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny."

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