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Animal welfare

He may be cute, but Geronimo must die

Geronimo with his owner, Helen Macdonald. PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

The hoo-ha about Geronimo the alpaca sums up everything that’s wrong with Britain, says Henry Hill in UnHerd. For those unaware, the eight-year-old animal from Gloucestershire faces execution after twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis. People are incensed. A “save Geronimo” petition has attracted more than 100,000 signatures. Yesterday, crowds marched to Downing Street with alpaca placards. The media is no better. “I beg you, Carrie, woman to woman… help save Geronimo,” ran a headline in the Mail. “I’ll take a bullet for Geronimo,” said the Sun’s front page. “Even the typically serious-minded Matthew Parris promised to ‘never to be horrid about our prime minister again, if only he can save poor Geronimo’.”

But taking a soft stance on infected animals – “even cute infected animals” – has serious consequences. Bovine TB kills 500 cattle every week. Allowing a disease-ridden alpaca to roam free would undermine our agricultural sector and make it harder to export our meat overseas. More broadly, Geronimo represents a uniquely British problem, “mawkish sentimentality and a refusal to accept the need for difficult trade-offs”. It’s a big reason this country gets little done and less built. If the government can’t enforce our perfectly sensible disease-control policies, how can we expect it to do anything serious?