Geronimo’s owner accuses government of creating wall of silence

The owner of Geronimo the alpaca has accused the government of hiding behind a “wall of silence” over her demand to know the circumstances of how the animal was culled. Helen Macdonald said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had still not supplied detailed information of Geronimo’s last hours, including where, how and when he was put to death.

The alpaca was euthanised after police officers and Defra staff arrived at Macdonald’s farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire on August 31.

Helen Macdonald joined protesters outside Defra HQ in London last week (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Helen Macdonald joined protesters outside Defra HQ in London last week (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The government’s “using every tactic they can to prevent any disclosure”

The animal was culled after he had twice tested positive for bovine TB after Macdonald lost a lengthy legal fight to halt the warrant. Following his death, Dr Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said the post-mortem examination showed “a number of TB-like lesions were found” during the examination and further tests were to be carried out.

But veterinary advisers to Macdonald claim the initial findings show Geronimo did not have the disease.

Read on...

Geronimo was removed from his owner’s farm and euthanised (Claire Hayhurst/PA)

Macdonald said:

The Government continue to make this as distressing and as difficult as possible for everyone concerned.

They are using every tactic they can to prevent any disclosure, and indeed any closure for myself and everyone who was campaigning to save Geronimo’s life and improve bovine TB policy.

Defra know very well that the information they are refusing to provide, will not support their claim that there was any suspicion of bovine TB in Geronimo.

That is why they refuse to provide this information and hide behind their wall of silence.

MacDonald’s vet still hasn’t received the documentation

Dr Iain McGill, Macdonald’s veterinary scientific adviser, said she had still not received a copy of the TB50 form, which details the samples taken for further testing. McGill said:

These findings would have been available within five days of the post mortem, the Government will already have a comprehensive set of results,

Despite repeated requests, there has been no disclosure of which blood or tissue samples have been taken from Geronimo, nor the results obtained from tests upon such samples.

In a statement last week, Middlemiss said:

We have completed the initial post-mortem 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 post mortem and culture process by the end of the year.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us