I'm still haunted by poor Geronimo's screams two years after his execution: Farmer claims another alpaca died of a broken heart due to losing furry friend

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  • EXCLUSIVE: Helen Macdonald says another alpaca died shortly after Geronimo
  • She is still haunted by the screams of her beloved pet, two years after his death
  • Vets executed the alpaca after he twice tested positive for bovine TV in 2021  

The owner of the late alpaca Geronimo says she is still haunted by his screams as he was dragged away to be killed for testing positive with bovine TB two years ago.  

Helen Macdonald, 52, also reveals that one of his fluffy pals died of a broken heart on the very spot Geronimo used to lie.

Geronimo, who twice tested positive for bovine TB, was culled on the orders of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs on August 31, 2021 after his owner lost a lengthy legal fight to halt the execution warrant.

Ms Macdonald was campaigning for the destruction to be halted after insisting the bovine tuberculosis tests previously carried out returned false positives.

The vetinery nurse had wanted the animal to be tested for a third time or allowed to live to aid research into the disease. 

Helen Macdonald, 52, says she is still haunted by the screams of her alpaca Geronimo as he was dragged away to be killed for testing positive with bovine TB two years ago

Helen Macdonald, 52, says she is still haunted by the screams of her alpaca Geronimo as he was dragged away to be killed for testing positive with bovine TB two years ago

Helen Macdonald, 52, (pictured with Geronimo) says that one of his fluffy pals died heartbroken after going downhill shortly after he was killed

Helen Macdonald, 52, (pictured with Geronimo) says that one of his fluffy pals died heartbroken after going downhill shortly after he was killed

The vetinery nurse had wanted the animal to be tested for a third time or allowed to live to aid research into the disease

The vetinery nurse had wanted the animal to be tested for a third time or allowed to live to aid research into the disease

Ms Macdonald is still fighting for justice, and has planted a memorial tree for her beloved Geronimo

Ms Macdonald is still fighting for justice, and has planted a memorial tree for her beloved Geronimo

Geronimo, which had twice tested positive for bovine TB, was culled by vets on August 31 2021 after his owner lost a lengthy legal fight to halt the execution warrant. Pictured: Three people, who arrived with a police escort, surround Geronimo the Alpaca

Geronimo, which had twice tested positive for bovine TB, was culled by vets on August 31 2021 after his owner lost a lengthy legal fight to halt the execution warrant. Pictured: Three people, who arrived with a police escort, surround Geronimo the Alpaca

The alpaca was euthanised after police officers and staff from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) arrived at Ms Macdonald's farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire - dragging him away with a white rope

The alpaca was euthanised after police officers and staff from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) arrived at Ms Macdonald’s farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire – dragging him away with a white rope

She argued the Enferplex test was fundamentally flawed and said Geronimo tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria. 

READ MORE: Geronimo the alpaca’s owner calls for Environment Secretary to be SACKED and says the fight to prove he was wrongly killed continues on the one-year anniversary of his death 

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But the alpaca was euthanised after police officers and staff from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) arrived at Ms Macdonald’s farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire – dragging him away with a white rope.

At the time, Defra said initial post-mortem examination tests had found a ‘number of TB-like lesions’ but further tests would be carried out. 

Those tests failed to provide conclusive findings about the source of the animal’s bovine TB, the Government said. 

Known as the People’s Alpaca, his death sent shockwaves throughout the country as the nation mourned his passing. 

Speaking on the second anniversary of Geronimo’s death, Ms Macdonald said: ‘For me personally it has been extremely difficult because it was avoidable. It was entirely avoidable.

‘He was cut down in his prime in the most horrific way. He couldn’t breathe, he was screaming, he was terrified.

‘It haunts me. They knew he was struggling and they didn’t care. 

She argued the Enferplex test was fundamentally flawed and said Geronimo tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin - a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria

She argued the Enferplex test was fundamentally flawed and said Geronimo tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria

A memorial tree has been set up in memory of Geronimo

A memorial tree has been set up in memory of Geronimo 

People have left sweet messages in Geronimo's memory on the tree

People have left sweet messages in Geronimo’s memory on the tree 

People have come from all over to leave heartfelt messages for the late animal

People have come from all over to leave heartfelt messages for the late animal 

The alpaca group had been together for four years before he was taken away

The alpaca group had been together for four years before he was taken away

Known as the People's Alpaca, his death sent shockwaves throughout the country as the nation mourned his passing

Known as the People’s Alpaca, his death sent shockwaves throughout the country as the nation mourned his passing

Helen Macdonald (left), owner of Geronimo the alpaca joins members of the Justice for Geronimo and Stop Badger Cull campaigns at a protest outside the offices of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2021

Helen Macdonald (left), owner of Geronimo the alpaca joins members of the Justice for Geronimo and Stop Badger Cull campaigns at a protest outside the offices of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2021

At the time, Defra said initial post-mortem examination tests had found a 'number of TB-like lesions' but further tests would be carried out

At the time, Defra said initial post-mortem examination tests had found a ‘number of TB-like lesions’ but further tests would be carried out

Geronimo was confirmed dead 90 minutes after leaving his home, DEFRA confirmed at the time, as they said he had been euthanised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

Geronimo was confirmed dead 90 minutes after leaving his home, DEFRA confirmed at the time, as they said he had been euthanised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

One of Geronimo's fluffy pals Piafo (pictured) died heartbroken after going downhill shortly after he was killed - choosing the very place Geronimo used to lie as her deathbed

One of Geronimo’s fluffy pals Piafo (pictured) died heartbroken after going downhill shortly after he was killed – choosing the very place Geronimo used to lie as her deathbed

‘The last two years, it’s just been awful. I can’t remember what happened in the months after. It’s a blur. I’m still not physically or mentally recovered from it.

READ MORE: Geronimo DIDN’T have TB: Tests show slaughtered alpaca that captured the nation’s hearts was wrongly put down by the Government… and now his owner is considering SUING over the case 

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‘It was described as a traumatic bereavement – he might not have been a person but he was a member of our family.’

The alpaca group had been together for four years before he was taken away. 

Ms Macdonald says Geronimo would likely be a great-grandfather now had he lived – and he would still be making baby Geronimos.

Instead, they have lost six years of a new bloodline – and with a movement restriction on their farm she estimates they have lost as much as £300,000 including the money they have spent fighting for justice for the alpaca.

She says the company is ‘financially stagnant’ as she has been unable to work and they have had to suspend trade – as they are having to stop breeding altogether for next year.

She continued: ‘The other alpacas were really quite traumatised by the whole thing.

‘One of the girls that we had – Piafo – she was old, she was nearly 21. We lost her three weeks later.

‘She just stopped eating and sat down and wouldn’t get up. She got very frail very quick.

‘She sat down next to where Geronimo used to sit and we put her to sleep there. I thought she’d just given up.

Ms Macdonald says Geronimo would likely be a great-grandfather now had he lived - and he would still be making baby Geronimos

Ms Macdonald says Geronimo would likely be a great-grandfather now had he lived – and he would still be making baby Geronimos

The memorial tree is planted near Ms Macdonald's home, with space to leave messages behind it

The memorial tree is planted near Ms Macdonald’s home, with space to leave messages behind it 

Later tests on Geronimo failed to provide conclusive findings about the source of the animal's bovine TB

Later tests on Geronimo failed to provide conclusive findings about the source of the animal’s bovine TB 

Ms Macdonald says Geronimo would likely be a great-grandfather now had he lived - and he would still be making baby Geronimos

Ms Macdonald says Geronimo would likely be a great-grandfather now had he lived – and he would still be making baby Geronimos

Heartbroken Helen has since planted a willow tree in memory of Geronimo, after Defra officials incinerated his body and refused to hand over his remains due to a TB risk

Heartbroken Helen has since planted a willow tree in memory of Geronimo, after Defra officials incinerated his body and refused to hand over his remains due to a TB risk

The memorial stands in the corner of the alpaca field - where Geronimo used to spend his days

 The memorial stands in the corner of the alpaca field – where Geronimo used to spend his days

Behind the tree, fans have pinned messages in memory of their favourite alpaca to the fence. One reads 'your star shines brightly above', while another adds 'bless you sweet Geronimo'

Behind the tree, fans have pinned messages in memory of their favourite alpaca to the fence. One reads ‘your star shines brightly above’, while another adds ‘bless you sweet Geronimo’

‘We were all traumatized but we definitely noticed a change in them. It took a long time for them to settle down.’

Heartbroken Helen has since planted a willow tree in memory of Geronimo, after Defra officials incinerated his body and refused to hand over his remains due to a TB risk.

READ MORE: Give me Geronimo’s ashes! Owner claims executed alpaca is being ‘denied a funeral’ after Defra officials ‘incinerated’ his body and now refuse to hand over his remains due to TB risk 

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Behind it, fans have pinned messages in memory of their favourite alpaca to the fence. One reads ‘your star shines brightly above’, while another adds ‘bless you sweet Geronimo’.

She also believes he was strangled by his rope halter in his trailer on the way to his planned death.

He was confirmed dead  90 minutes after leaving his home, DEFRA confirmed at the time, as they said he had been euthanised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Ms Macdonald says that she can’t reconcile him being taken away without an alpaca head collar – with The British Alpaca Society complaining to the Prime Minister at the time that he was tied up in a ‘dangerous manner’.

She continued: ‘I think we have to consider suing them but we need the ombudsman report first. 

‘It has been such a long slog going through various complaint procedures and reliving it all the time but it’s not going away.

‘We’ve got thousands of people still struggling with it – they all want justice, they all want something to change. 

‘This was never just about one animal. It’s cattle, it’s dogs, cats, cattle, deer, badgers – everyone  is suffering because of this.

Ms Macdonald says that she can't reconcile him being taken away without an alpaca head collar - with The British Alpaca Society complaining to the Prime Minister at the time that he was tied up in a 'dangerous manner'

Ms Macdonald says that she can’t reconcile him being taken away without an alpaca head collar – with The British Alpaca Society complaining to the Prime Minister at the time that he was tied up in a ‘dangerous manner’

Ms Macdonald has previously called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign, accusing him of ¿murdering an innocent animal¿

Ms Macdonald has previously called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign, accusing him of ‘murdering an innocent animal’

Ms Macdonald has a herd of alpacas that she uses to make luxury products including scarves and pashminas at her farm. She started breeding the animals 19 years ago

Ms Macdonald has a herd of alpacas that she uses to make luxury products including scarves and pashminas at her farm. She started breeding the animals 19 years ago

‘I already have had cases since Geronimo where animals have been single primed and returned a positive result, been slaughtered and they’ve found nothing. False positives do happen.

‘It keeps happening and it will keep happening until they have to be held to account.

‘But he should be alive. He should still be with us today and I find that very hard.

‘They have killed a healthy animal. They have kept me under movement restrictions for six years. They have destroyed my business. They have taken away all my privacy because I felt I had to go public – I had to tell people what was happening.

‘They have ruined my life for six years and it was all avoidable and completely pointless.’ 

At the time, Ms Macdonald has previously called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign, accusing him of ‘murdering an innocent animal’.

At the time, Ms Macdonald has previously called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign, accusing him of ¿murdering an innocent animal¿

At the time, Ms Macdonald has previously called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign, accusing him of ‘murdering an innocent animal’

Geronimo¿s killing was the culmination of a David and Goliath legal fight between her and Defra that gripped the nation

Geronimo’s killing was the culmination of a David and Goliath legal fight between her and Defra that gripped the nation

Timeline: Geronimo’s long struggle for survival

2017

  • Geronimo is brought to England from New Zealand in August 2017 by his owner, veterinary nurse Helen Macdonald.
  • He tests positive for bovine tuberculosis twice in August and November, and is put into isolation away from the rest of the herd at the farm in Wickwar.

2018

  • The Government applies for a court order in July to have Geronimo destroyed. The alpaca is given a stay of execution, with a deadline of the end of August for his slaughter.
  • Miss Macdonald seeks a judicial review claiming new evidence shows the animal is healthy – marking the start of a series of lengthy legal battles.
  • In November, Miss Macdonald wins the right to a review at the High Court.

2019

  • In March, a hearing gets underway and Miss Macdonald claims Government experts relied on ‘flawed science’. The case dismissed in July.

2021

  • In May, a district court judge orders an execution warrant.
  • Miss Macdonald starts an appeal and an order is made preventing Geronimo’s destruction pending the application.
  • She takes out an emergency injunction to delay a warrant to cull the animal before an an appeal hearing on July 29.
  • The case is again dismissed. A judge agrees to delay the start of a second execution warrant until August 5
  • Geronimo is taken away on August 31 and executed.
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Geronimo’s killing was the culmination of a David and Goliath legal fight between her and Defra that gripped the nation.

Ms Macdonald said: ‘What I remember is people in hospices watching him on TV, people in hospitals, care homes, who really enjoyed watching him on the live cam.

‘Those people at the end of their lives and they just wanted a good news story and to see a nice animal enjoying his life.

‘Defra don’t care about people, they don’t care about animals. They treat them as lumps of meat.

‘They have to change their mentality if they want to get the public onside – yes there are diseases out there and yes they need to manage them, but they don’t learn.’

The eight-year-old champion alpaca, who was born in New Zealand before being brought to Britain, was consigned for slaughter after he twice tested positive for bTB in 2017.

Ms Macdonald has always disputed the results – but the legal battle concluded with a High Court ruling in July 2021 that he should be destroyed.

In August, Defra officials and dozens of police officers forced their way on to Miss Macdonald’s farm to take Geronimo away.

She said Avon and Somerset Police had questions to answer for ‘facilitating murder’ and accused Defra of ‘bully boy tactics’ that are ‘frankly unforgivable’.

Ms Macdonald has a herd of alpacas that she uses to make luxury products including scarves and pashminas at her farm. She started breeding the animals 19 years ago. 

Geronimo, a pedigree alpaca worth £15,000, had won competitions in New Zealand for his jet black wool.

Leading vets had demanded the Environment Secretary ‘commute Geronimo’s death sentence’ so he could be studied instead of slaughtered.

She added: ‘Geronimo was apolitical – he was not a cow and he was not a badger. He exposed the truth about TB policy, which is not fit for purpose.

‘And he came from another country, New Zealand – they haven’t had a case of TB for 20 years.

‘I’d like to sit down with all of those people in a room and have them look me in the eye and explain to me what the hell they thought they were doing.

‘They are hoping that I’ll just shut up – well I can tell you now it’s never going to happen.

‘If it takes the rest of my life we will stop what happened to me and Geronimo happening to anyone else.

‘They couldn’t break me, so they chose to break Geronimo.’ 

A Defra spokesperson said: ‘Our sympathies remain with all those with animals affected by this terrible disease which devastates farmers’ livelihoods. 

‘It is important to remember that infected animals can spread the disease to both animals and people before displaying clinical signs, which is why we take action quickly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.’







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