Alpaca standoff continues as owner demands 'appropriate testing'
Standoff over Geronimo continues as alpaca’s owner demands ‘appropriate bovine TB testing’ and Stanley Johnson voices support but refuses to phone Boris after Defra ordered animal should be euthanised
- Geronimo the alpaca tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) twice
- A warrant has been issued to kill the eight-year-old alpaca stud
- Owner Helen Macdonald, 50, insists that the skin tests were flawed
- She said: ‘We’ve known that there’s been problems with this test since 2016 but Defra didn’t tell me that before the first test result in August 2017’
The owner of Geronimo the alpaca says she was ‘discriminated against from the very get-go’ and has demanded ‘appropriate testing’ – as Boris Johnson’s father again voiced his support and said the doomed animal ‘deserves another test’.
Geronimo, originally from New Zealand but now living in south Gloucestershire, tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) twice, and must now be put down, the Government says.
A warrant has been issued to kill the eight-year-old alpaca stud following a £50,000 High Court battle, but his owner Helen Macdonald, 50, insists that the skin tests were flawed.
She has received backing from the Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson, who today reiterated his support for Ms Macdonald, but revealed that he had not phoned his son over the issue because he doesn’t wish to ‘invoke some privileged access mechanism’ to advance his opinion.
Ms Macdonald has also had support from protesters who yesterday demonstrated outside the Defra headquarters in London and Downing Street.
Geronimo had been given the vaccine tuberculin which, Ms Macdonald says, produced a false positive.
Ms Macdonald told Good Morning Britain today: ‘We’ve known that there’s been problems with this test since 2016 but Defra didn’t tell me that before the first test result in August 2017.
‘The second round of testing by their own admission was biased, they actually said ”we deviated from protocol to ensure that the client understood that the first test was indeed positive for tuberculosis, so you know, I was discriminated against from the very get-go.
A warrant has been issued to kill the eight-year-old alpaca stud following a £50,000 High Court battle, but his owner Helen Macdonald, 50, insists that the skin tests were flawed
WHAT IS BOVINE TB?
Bovine tuberculosis is a disease of cattle that can also infect badgers, deer, goats, pigs, dogs and cats.
The disease is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis.
This is related to the microbe that causes tuberculosis in humans.
Bovine tuberculosis is typically transmitted aerially through coughs and sneezes.
It causes fever, coughing, weight loss, pain, diarrhoea and ultimately death.
Badgers are the most significant wildlife reservoir for the bacterium.
In the United Kingdom, most bovine tuberculosis outbreaks occur in the South West and the West Midlands.
‘And then a few months after that we found out that they already knew that there was a problem with this test, so there is no validity to their claims, there is a new test called Actiphage which looks for the embobis in the blood stream.
‘What we’ve always been asking for is testing that’s appropriate for an alpaca, and let’s have a better answer because clearly he produced an antibody response to the tuberculin four years ago or he wouldn’t be standing here today.’
Environment Secretary George Eustice refused to overturn the decision to destroy Geronimo, saying: ‘Every livestock farmer has to get used to their share of tragedy and loss.’
Ms Macondlad and her family lost a final attempt on Thursday to save Geronimo from being destroyed.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) now has 26 days to carry out the court order.
Stanley Johnson today told Sky News he was ‘backing Geronimo’ because he thinks ‘he deserves another test, it’s as simple as that’.
He added: ‘Given that their animal has been alive and apparently thriving for the last four years, given the doubt that there was as to whether or not this sort of false positive or real positive, surely it makes sense to invoke another test procedure.
‘And I think that Helen explained to me when I spoke to her last Saturday that yes there is another test which could be done, I think it was called Actiphage and that might reveal what she firmly believes and certainly people I’ve spoken to say, ”Why on earth would a diseased animal live for another four years?” ‘
Ms Macdonald has received backing from the Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson, who today reiterated his support, but revealed that he had not phoned his son over the issue because he doesn’t wish to ‘invoke some privileged access mechanism’ to advance his opinion
Geronimo had been given the vaccine tuberculin which, Ms Macdonald says, produced a false positive
When asked if he would pick up the phone and ask Boris Johnson to do something about it, he replied: ‘No, I don’t think it’s right for me as an ordinary citizen to kind of invoke some privileged access mechanism and say, ”I say…”
‘In any case that puts him in a difficult position. He’s got to weigh the evidence, George Eustice has to weight the evidence, people have to weigh the evidence and my opinion is just one of many opinions, I feel free to make it.’
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