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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Geronimo the alpaca euthanised by vets

Today (Tuesday, August 31st, 2021), DEFRA vets have euthanised Geronimo, the alpaca.

This morning, the animal, which tested positive twice for bovine TB, left the farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, in the UK.

Helen MacDonald imported the alpaca from New Zealand. She believed the results were false positives and took the case to the High Court last month.

However, the judge re-issued a warrant for the slaughter of Geronimo to commence on August 5th, 2021.

Geronimo the alpaca

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

“The tests used on Geronimo were developed for use on alpacas and are highly specific.”

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“The chances of a false positive are significantly less than one per cent, and we have tested him twice. Not just for the benefit of our farming industry but to avoid more TB cases in humans, our disease control measures must be applied.”

More than 140,000 people signed a petition, entitled Save Geronimo – stop killing healthy alpacas without valid science, on Change.Org.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency killed the animal as a “necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis”.

The DEFRA said it used a court warrant to enter premises to remove the bTB-positive alpaca known as ‘Geronimo’.”

TB in the UK

A spokesperson for the DEFRA said: “bTB is an infectious disease of cattle and other mammals.”

“It is one of the most significant animal health challenges that England faces today, leaving behind devastating impacts on our farming and rural communities.”

The department revealed the disease costs taxpayers more than £100 million each year. Last year alone, more than 27,000 cattle had to be slaughtered to “curb its spread”.


Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

“No one wants to have to cull infected animals if it can be avoided. We need to follow the scientific evidence and cull animals that have tested positive for bTBv to minimise the spread of this insidious disease and ultimately eradicate the biggest threat to animal health in this country.”

“Not only is this essential to protect the livelihoods of our farming industry and rural communities, but it is also necessary to avoid more TB cases in humans.”

“This is a terribly sad situation, and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease,” she added.

A post mortem examination will now be undertaken by veterinary pathologists from the APHA. The department stated that this will be followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples. This can take up to three months.


A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We can confirm officers are in attendance at a farm in the Wickwar area of South Gloucestershire this morning to support the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who are executing a court warrant.”

“We’ll always support our partner agencies to carry out their lawful duties. Our role is to prevent a breach of the peace and to ensure public safety is protected.”

Helen Macdonald released the following statement this afternoon:

“I am absolutely devastated to report that DEFRA has taken Geronimo away by force this morning. They have refused to inform me where they are taking him.”

“Over the last two weeks, we have tried to engage constructively and persistently with George Eustice, Lord Benyon, George Eustice’s special advisors, senior DEFRA civil servants and multiple MPs and government scientists, proposing a different way forward that would enable the Government to address their stated priorities in tackling Bovine TB, and also save Geronimo’s life.”

“The government have refused to engage in good faith. In fact, all the time, they were simply planning to murder Geronimo.”

Empty fields, empty sheds and no cows: Family loses entire herd to TB

One farm family in Northern Ireland has opened up about losing their entire dairy herd to TB.

Ulster Farmers’ Union captured the Co Fermanagh family’s story in a video.

The farm group stated that “tackling TB in all its hosts is essential so that no more farming families have to suffer the excruciating heartache seen in this video”.

The farm has been in the family for generations, but it is now a different sight with “empty fields, empty sheds and no cows”. You can read this story in full.

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