London: British vets have killed an eight-year-old alpaca named Geronimo, whose fate triggered an outcry against Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the government ordered the animal to be put down because of positive tests for bovine tuberculosis.
Veterinary staff in blue overalls, masks and goggles, backed by police officers, arrived at the western England farm where the animal lived, and took Geronimo from his pen. The scene was witnessed by animal activists and journalists who have camped out at the farm in Wickwar, 175 kilometres west of London, vowing to stop the killing.
The order to kill Geronimo led to pleas from owner Helen Macdonald for Johnson and his wife Carrie to show mercy, prompting some celebrities to demand the Prime Minister to reverse course from what they cast as a public relations disaster.
More than 140,000 people had signed a petition calling for the creature to be saved.
“The infected animal was moved from the premises and euthanised by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) as a necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis,” the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement.
Macdonald, a veterinary nurse, said the alpaca was negative when he was brought in from New Zealand and she had spent thousands of pounds on a failed court battle to save the animal.
The controversial camelid was sentenced to death after twice testing positive for bovine TB. Macdonald argued the tests had produced false positives and battled for a third test.
Several veterinarians backed her cause, but earlier this month a High Court judge rejected Macdonald’s request for a temporary injunction to stop the execution order and reopen the case.