Activists march through London in an attempt to save the Geronimo alpaca | Animal wellbeing

They stood guard patiently, sometimes resting in deckchairs and when the showers came rushing for shelter in the farm buildings, but a band of animal lovers insisted they put their bodies on. the path of anyone who comes to pick up Geronimo the alpaca. .

A human shield, dubbed the ‘alpaca angels’, was thrown around Geronimo, who was sentenced to death by the UK government after twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis.

The government has a fight on its hands. Nearly 100,000 people signed a petition against the order and on Monday Geronimo supporters marched through Downing Street, calling for the decision to be overturned.

At Geronimo, a farm in rolling countryside just north of Bristol, a band of protectors came to defend him.

Louise Jones, 57, a school caregiver and housekeeper, from Pucklechurch, south Gloucestershire, said: ‘I hope the more people here the harder it will be for Defra [the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs] enter.

Geronimo with his owner, Helen MacDonald, on his farm in Gloucestershire. Photograph: Ben Birchall / PA

“I’ve been here since about 6:15 am, but some people stayed here in their cars overnight, and there was a guy camping out here in a tent. I think it’s going to be a long road now for a lot of people – I’ll be here every day now, adapting it to work.

Pete Martin, 59, former chairman of the Badger Trust in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, accused Defra of being “mean” and “belligerent”. He said: “Geronimo is lively, he is in good health. It’s just bad science.

Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald, who imported him from New Zealand, believes the tests are giving false positives, but has been denied permission to have him tested for a third time.

Last week she lost her last appeal to save the animal in the High Court in London and a warrant was effectively signed for its destruction.

Macdonald said she was “incredibly grateful” for the support she received. “It’s a really unique case, but it brings everyone together. There are a lot of people behind it. At the end of the day, it is about the behavior of the government. They have created this situation where we are at a horrible dead end. I am still there and Geronimo is still there, and I hold them to account.

Macdonald has fought for Geronimo for four years. “Four years of my life have been passed by this farce – but I’ll stick to it.”

And how does Geronimo deal with his new celebrity status? “He was a little cranky with all the attention,” she said. “I think it’s been a bit too much for him and he wants to get back to a quiet life.”

When asked if Boris Johnson had a message for the protesters, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We know how painful the loss of animals is for anyone. This is why the secretary at the environment has looked at this very carefully, in fact several times over the course of several years, and questioned all the evidence.The fact remains that Geronimo has unfortunately tested positive twice, using a highly specific, reliable and validated test.

A government source said there was no turning back on the decision regarding Geronimo’s fate, as it would set a bad precedent when farmers faced the slaughter of several thousand affected animals. of bovine tuberculosis.

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