Geronimo the alpacas life safe for now after being condemned to death

Geronimo the alpaca will not be killed just yet following a petition signed by 130,000 animal lovers.

The farm animal was sentenced to death by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) after he twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

His loyal owner Helen Macdonald, who imported him from New Zealand to her South Gloucestershire farm, insists the test results are false positives and has been refused to have him tested a third time.

Ms Macdonald lost her final appeal to save Geronimo's life at the High Court where a warrant for his destruction was authorised to prevent him from spreading the disease.

An outpouring of support from the public urged Boris Johnson to step in and halt the killing.

Her lawyers are seeking a judicial review at the High Court in London, including an application for a temporary injunction to halt the enforcement of the destruction order.

They are waiting to find out whether they will be granted an injunction but Dr Iain McGill, Geronimo's vet, said the alpaca's immediate future was secure.

"Defra lawyers accept Helen Macdonald's legal application for material non-disclosure," he said.

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"Hearing date awaited, but Geronimo safe for now, though Defra only saying they won't kill him today. Shameful."

Court officials confirmed the application had been lodged at the court and had not yet been considered by a judge.

Last week the Government insisted that all the evidence on the animal's condition had been "looked at very carefully".

A Defra spokesman said: "There are no plans to execute the warrant today."

They added: "We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald's situation, just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.

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"It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny.

"Bovine tuberculosis is one of the greatest animal health threats we face today and causes devastation and distress for farming families and rural communities across the country while costing the taxpayer around £100 million every year.

"Therefore, while nobody wants to cull infected animals, we need to do everything we can tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected."

Ms Macdonald's lawyers have written to Environment Secretary George Eustice to suggest Geronimo's life could be saved and instead he could be studied for research.

The British Alpaca Society said the current stand-off between Defra and Ms Macdonald has "considerably undermined confidence" in the voluntary bovine TB testing regime in the UK.

As well as alpacas, badgers have been a victim of the fight against bovine TB, with mass culling employed to stop the spread since 2013, sparking a huge public backlash.

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