A very strange report today. Geronimo, the black alpaca for four years living on very borrowed time, after not one but two positive Enferplex TB tests, has his post-mortem results.
At 1 o’clock, the BBC reported no visible lesions were found, this headline news illustrated by a screaming crowd outside Defra headquarters, howling for blood. The source of the report is not known.
But an hour later, the Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemass reported by Agriland.ie and here indicated that pathologists had in fact found suspect lesions in this animal’s liver (see pm pic of alpaca liver above) and some lymph glands. And that, as is usual, further testing would be carried out.
This involves culturing samples to identify acid fast bacteria, and if appropriate, the spoligotype of m.bovis responsible.
This is normal procedure after a post mortem where TB is suspected. It takes several weeks.
As farmers, some of whom have had the dubious pleasure of presenting reactor cattle to Defra’s mincing machine, we are unanimously appalled at the treatment this animal had during his last hours.
It is usual under many circumstances including this one, that the animal is put down quietly on the farm. But that dignity and respect was not afforded to Geronimo, and we understand that that was the choice of Helen MacDonald, his owner. A media circus was what she wanted.
So having courted the press, in his company, haltered and calm for weeks, Geronimo’s owner abandoned him to a mob of ‘protectors’ and police, while booted and suited vets attempted to catch him. All strangers. The ministry vets then had to identify him, ‘isolated’ with four more black alpacas, then halter him with an ill fitting cattle halter and drag him to a padded horse box through a mob.
And his owner? Skulking away from the cameras. Leaving this animal for others to cope with. Appalling. Absolutely appalling.
Personally, we would have corralled the press mob and the so called supporters and insisted the owner present this alpaca in a calm and secure way. The circus we saw was for the media and certainly not for the welfare of this animal.