The life of an alpaca named Geronimo is hanging in the balance after he tested positive twice to an “insidious” disease capable of fatally compromising the health of animals in the UK.
Geronimo has lived an otherwise healthy life since being imported by alpaca farmer Helen Macdonald from New Zealand in 2017, testing negative for bovine tuberculosis before making the journey, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
His two subsequent positive tests to the disease have sparked uproar across the country, with Ms Macdonald desperately pleading for him to be tested for a third time.
She has launched a public appeal after having her case dismissed in the High Court on July 29, after the judge ruled in favour of “the suspicion of disease”.
The farmer believes the first two tests delivered false positives and fears Geronimo will face a lethal injection any day now under the UK’s ‘test and slaughter’ program.
It seeks to euthanise any animal with the illness to prevent it from spreading to other livestock.
While animal health experts argue the chances of Geronimo’s tests delivering false positives were incredibly slim, Ms Macdonald has called for a different test to be used.
Her plea has been heard by thousands across the country and even saw protesters take to Downing Street on Monday in support of the six-year-old alpaca.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made it clear would not intervene in the case, with a spokesman saying the test used was a “highly specific and reliable and validated test”.
Mr Johnson’s dad since voiced his opposition to his son’s inaction, arguing that Geronimo seemed “healthy as all get-out” on GB News on Monday.
“This is an animal which four years on is still healthy, still surviving,” he said. “It cannot be right to not do one more test.”
Additionally, more than 106,000 people have signed a petition requesting the PM intervene in the slaughter, which initially was set to unfold on August 5.
Without intervention, Ms Macdonald will be confronted with no option but to euthanise Geronimo herself, have her vet do it, or face an extermination team sent in by Environment Secretary George Eustice.
Ms Macdonald, who is a veterinary nurse, said she would continue to defend Geronimo.
“We will not break the law but we will stand up for what is right and what the government want to do to a healthy animal is not right. We are under siege and aren’t getting any sleep,” she told The Sun.
Her campaign has been joined by the likes of actor Joanna Lumley and English TV presenter Chris Packham.
“Having spent five years with him, Helen is bound to have developed an emotional bond. Her determination has made this a test case for the many alpacas in the UK,” Packham said.
He added that as a vet nurse, Ms Macdonald would understand that tests for bovine tuberculosis weren’t always reliable.