Geronimo’s owner – a fat, soft, divisive 8-year-old alpaca – lost her last-ditch legal bid to save him from execution on Wednesday.
A British Supreme Court has rejected Helen Macdonald’s attempt to overturn the death warrant for Geronimo, who is believed to be suffering from bovine tuberculosis.
Ms Macdonald, who believes the government’s diagnosis is the result of a false positive, said she now has until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to put him to sleep or authorities can show up to do it at a time optionally.
Justice Mary Elizabeth Stacey concluded that there was “no prospect” that Ms Macdonald would succeed in her bid to reopen an earlier ruling, according to the British press, which widened the hearing.
Mrs. Macdonald, a veterinary nurse, was not present at the hearing; she was back on the farm in Gloucestershire with Geronimo, the dozens of “alpaca angels” who have sworn to protect Geronimo from execution, and the numerous reporters who have covered extensively on the legal developments surrounding the battle for Geronimo. But what Ms Macdonald heard from members of her legal team who attended matched “no prospect,” she said.
Still, she wasn’t ready to give up.
“I’m not going to put him to sleep,” Mrs. Macdonald said. “No way. I know he’s healthy.”
Ms. Macdonald and the tens of thousands of other people who have gathered around Geronimo in recent weeks believe that the reason Geronimo tested positive for bovine TB twice is not because he is sick, but because the testing system is flawed. Other alpaca owners and vets have been skeptical about the test in the past.
The UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, known as DEFRA, which is conducting the tests, said this was not the case.
“We understand Ms Macdonald’s plight – just as we are with anyone with animals affected by this terrible disease,” the agency said in a statement earlier this month saying it was intended to provide “misleading information” about debunking Geronimo. “It is for this reason that the test results and options for Geronimo have been considered very carefully by DEFRA, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, and have gone through several stages of thorough legal investigation.” The agency could not be reached for comment on the latest developments.
Ms Macdonald said her legal team’s strategy on Wednesday was to access data from a judicial review that she says shows that nine camelids — the term for slender-necked animals, including alpacas, llamas and camels — that tested positive for bovine TB, were found to be perfectly healthy after being dropped. The judge has denied her access to that “evidence,” she said, and has been told she cannot appeal the decision.
More than 27,000 cattle in England were slaughtered in the past year to contain bovine TB, according to DEFRA.
The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, has said it is essential to take positive tests seriously to “eradicate the greatest threat to animal health in this country”.
The judge’s ruling “doesn’t change anything,” Ms Macdonald wrote on the Save Geronimo Facebook page on Wednesday. “We fight on!”