Geronimo the alpaca deserved a more dignified end.

Geronimo the alpaca deserved a more dignified end. Everyone present on the day of his euthanasia failed to put his best interests before their own emotions and frustrations.

The whole tragic and acrimonious tale of the euthanasia of Geronimo the alleged TB suffering alpaca lasted four years. It involved court cases and appeals, a 140,000 petition, a demonstration to Downing Street and appeals direct to Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister. Campaigners camped outside the farm reminiscent of the days of the nuclear protests and the story was covered worldwide.

Unfortunately, it ended in distasteful and unacceptable scenes when the poor animal had to be forcibly removed from his farm. Unpalatable as it may have been, Geronimo’s fate was always going to be irrevocable and it should have been everybody’s priority to make his last moments as calm and peaceful as possible. But this did not happen

A media and campaigner scrum.

There was so much wrong on both sides of the fence during his final hours and unforgivably it turned into a scrum which caused considerable stress, anxiety and upset to poor Geronimo. Noisy supporters and demonstrators vented their frustration and emotions and jostled with the media photographers. There were scenes of paparazzi type photographers chasing after the trailer, jumping up to get their last photos as is often seen with prison vans outside courthouses.

This melee unnecessarily forced a Police cordon to be present to protect the government vets trying to lead Geronimo away. Not surprisingly Geronimo reacted to the close proximity of all these uniformed officers and the commotion surrounding him. Accusations by supporters of the government vets mishandling and causing Geronimo distress appear slightly hypocritical and shouts of “call yourself vets” were uncalled for and unhelpful. They were accused of being murderers, executioners, torturers and slaughterers. I am sure the vets and Geronimo would have preferred a more civilised exit.

Geronimo being led away by government veterinarians for euthanasia
Geronimo could have done without the melee surrounding his departure.

Geronimo could have been given a more peaceful and respectful end to his life.

It could have been such a different story. Geronimo could have been given the opportunity for a quiet and humane euthanasia in his stable surrounded by people he knew to calm him during his final moments as we would do with our precious pet dog or cat. Or the owner could have done more to keep the circus away and allowed the vet to calmly lead Geronimo to the trailer or even to have done it herself although this would of course have been upsetting.

Well-meaning supporters allowed their emotions to get the better of them.

The well-meaning people present when he was removed from the farm did the poor animal no favours. They allowed their emotions to get the better of them and they lost sight of the wellbeing of the animal they were supposedly so concerned about. They should have put Geronimo’s best interests first by being more respectful.

The whole episode was tragic and although I applaud the concerted efforts of his supporters to save his life, their actions in his final hours just made his death more distressing and pitiful. If Geronimo had been my pet I would have also have fought to save him, but I would have hated to see the life of an animal of mine end in such circumstances.

Geronimo imported from New Zealand for stud.

Although all the coverage portrayed Geronimo as a beloved pet, he was also an expensive stud animal imported from New Zealand to improve the gene line on the alpaca breeding farm which had apparently operated for 15 years. There are hundreds of thousands of them in New Zealand and Australia bred to slaughter for meat.

He was also one of 45,000 alpacas and other camelids in the U.K. involved in the burgeoning breeding and farming of them for their fleece and their meat. As such they are treated as livestock and subject to TB checks. Unfortunately he was was found to be positive in two blood tests although this has always been contested.

Alpacas are killed daily in the U.K.

In 2020, 205 alpacas and other camelids were culled due to TB and over 28,000 cattle and dairy cows along with countless badgers because of the threat of this contagious disease. Their fate goes mainly unnoticed.

As does the fact that in the UK more alpacas are slaughtered each year for their meat, and because they are either unsuitable for breeding or their fleeces are degrading. There are also large numbers of unwanted and abandoned alpacas each year which has resulted in Alpaca rescues having to be set up.

Realistically we should be attempting to stop the keeping of alpacas, llamas and camels in the U.K. so that this kind of incident need not arise.

He was euthanised on Tuesday 31 August 2021.

RIP Geronimo another victim of our passion for exotic meats and clothing.

Escobar’s Hippos: the ultimate alien invasive species.

Is it time to allow a little disorder in nature?

You cannot get a more obvious and intrusive alien invasive species running wild in a foreign land than hippos. In the normal course of events such a situation could not happen but in the case of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar’s and his hippos in Colombia, it did, and it is now causing scientists consternation and disagreement.

Pablo Escobar managed to import legally and illegally a whole private zoo at his Hacienda Napoles from all parts of the world in the 1980’s and these included four illegally imported hippos. How its possible to smuggle such large animals into a country is another matter, but there were also giraffes, elephants, kangaroos and many other species.

“one of the greatest challenges of invasive species in the world”.

When Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993 many animals were left to fend for themselves including the hippos who took up residence in a local river and in the space of thirty years have increased their numbers to a staggering 80-100. Some university study groups and scientists have wildly estimated that there could be as many as 1,500 by 2035 if the Colombian government do not act now.

The hippos themselves seem well suited to their new found environment and have pulled off a wonderful breeding achievement perhaps proving that you do not necessarily need human intervention to breed animals. But many scientists and conservationists hate invasive species and prefer everything to remain as nature intended all in its right order and place. This is because in some circumstances they eradicate indigenous animals and plants and ruin ecosystems and biodiversity and usually the knee jerk reaction is always to kill the offenders.

Hippos in Colombia
It is amazing how animals can breed and look after themselves without our help.

Protected by the Government.

There have been attempts to neuter them but with so many this is now proving impractical. Unusually in this kind of scenario the hippos are presently protected by the Colombian government. This is mainly due to the fact that it is difficult and expensive to relocate them and more importantly the locals love them and do not want them killed. They are also boosting the local tourist economy, and no one so far has been seriously injured or killed so at the moment they are free to roam.

Now they are established leave them be.

One has to wonder why there wasn’t earlier intervention to remove them before their numbers got out of control and why wildlife rescue, university study groups and scientists didn’t step in sooner. Now that they are established it seems only fair to leave them be and the colony could prove useful in the future with the way things are in Africa . There are many studies in progress to monitor them so there could be many lessons to be learned from leaving other animals in similar situations to survive without our intervention.

Invasive species are a worldwide problem mainly caused as always by the hand of humans abandoning exotic pets or historically introducing them to benefit human occupation. In Australia and New Zealand it is feral cats and dogs, in Europe it is animals like the coypu. The USA has problems with animals like crocodiles, turtles and snakes and in the UK it is grey squirrels, mink and ruddy ducks.

We blame invasive species for all sorts of things which is a tad rich when you consider the major invasive species at work on the planet has always been homo sapiens, who wherever they have decided to take up residence have irreparably destroyed the local biodiversity and continue to do so. Perhaps it is time for us to allow a bit of disorder in nature if it helps animals.

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