After a four-year long battle with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Helen Macdonald had to euthanise her beloved pet alpaca, Geronimo, after he tested positive for bovine tuberculosis two times. The animal was culled on 31 August, but Macdonald is more positive than ever that Geronimo did not have TB.
What happened to Geronimo?
Macdonald brought Geronimo to Gloucester from his home in New Zealand back in 2017. Prior to his departure, he had tested negative for bovine tuberculosis two times. Bovine TB is a bacterial infection in cattle that is caused by bacterium Mycobacterium bovis and it can be passed on to other mammals like goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and even humans.
The month Geronimo arrived in England, he was tested once again but this time around his results came back positive. He was then forced to live in isolation and DEFRA ordered for him to be euthanised. Ever since his death sentence in 2017, his owner has been fighting the organisation claiming that they’ve got the wrong results. She says that if Geronimo really had TB, he would have died within months and yet he lived for four year.
Her long, hard, and expensive battle garnered attention from millions of animal-lovers all over the world, but ultimately she lost the fight and the alpaca was put down this year. Even though Geronimo is no longer alive, Macdonald is still adamantly trying to prove that he did not have TB.
According to Macdonald and her lawyers, preliminary post-mortem results have shown that the camelid mammal was not infected with the disease. Macdonald’s lawyers said:
As reviewed by Dr Iain McGill and Dr Bob Broadbent, the preliminary gross post-mortem findings are negative for visible lesions typical of Bovine Tuberculosis.
For clarity there are no white or cream caseous, enlarged abscesses typical for bTB in alpacas whether in the lungs, bronchial, mediastinal or retropharyngeal lymph nodes.
However, their claims have been disputed by Defra as experts are saying that initial results cannot determine everything. Dr. Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer, explained:
We have completed the initial postmortem examination of Geronimo. A number of TB-like lesions were found and in line with standard practice, these are now undergoing further investigation.
These tests include the developing of bacteriological cultures from tissue samples which usually takes several months – we would expect to complete the full postmortem and culture process by the end of the year.