GERONIMO the alpaca has been executed after cops and Defra officials in hazmat suits stormed a Gloucestershire farm.
The creature's death ends a sad saga that has gripped the nation throughout the summer.
At least 15 cops in a riot van arrived at the farm in Wickwar at 10.45am.
Some of the uniformed PCs were seen speaking to three people dressed in blue overalls, masks and goggles. All three had bodyworn video on.
There was a stand-off with protesters at the gate. One woman is understood to have been arrested – and then quickly de-arrested – after shooting a supersoaker water gun at a Defra hitman.
A man with a long white beard was also seen grappling with police.
Geronimo was loaded into a horsebox and taken away under police escort. Defra confirmed just after 12.30pm the creature's death sentence had been executed.
Vets will now carry out a post-mortem to discover if the animal really did have TB. However, the results could take three months.
The organisation's chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: "This is a terribly sad situation and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease.
"No one wants to have to cull infected animals if it can be avoided, but we need to follow the scientific evidence."
The destruction warrant was valid until September 4. Campaigners wanted the animal to be tested for a third time or let it live to aid research into the disease.
A group calling themselves the 'alpaca angels' had vowed to thwart executioners by using decoy alpacas to confuse them.
I fled… we've been totally duped. This is an outrage
And while Geronimo did briefly make a break for it, running into a field filled with other creatures, he was rounded up and harnessed within 20 minutes.
Tearful farmer Helen Macdonald, 50, said she ran as officials arrived.
And she vowed to continue her fight – minutes before learning the animal had been put to sleep.
“I fled. If I had stayed there they would have arrested me for obstruction," she said.
“That would have played into their hands because I wouldn’t have been able to keep fighting for him.
“They took him alive – we’ve been totally duped. It’s an outrage.
“We don’t know where they’ve taken him but there are still a few hours to try to save his life. We have got to get this stopped.”
Helen had said she was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and step in the way of any gunman told to kill her beloved alpaca.
Supporters claim she sent a text earlier today reading: "They took him alive, get after Defra."
Boris Johnson's spokesperson told reporters losing animals to TB is "highly distressing" – and added: "Our sympathies are with Ms Macdonald and any others that are affected by this terrible disease."
'I'LL TAKE A BULLET'
Almost 150,000 Brits had signed an online petition to save Geronimo's life after Helen insisted the positive tests were faulty.
Actor Joanna Lumley and TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham were among those pleading with ministers to save Geronimo.
But the creature's story has ended in tragedy today after a High Court judge ruled it was a danger to other animals.
Vet Helen has been fighting Defra for four years and is now drowning in £50,000 legal fees.
Earlier this month, she told The Sun: “I can’t stand by and let my animal be killed and I’m willing to stand in the way of any gunman who comes to destroy Geronimo.
“They’ve picked on the wrong woman. There is no way that I will put him to sleep.”
She said tests used to diagnose TB are unreliable.
“If Geronimo did have TB he should have been dead by now," she said.
"Alpacas with TB only last a few months, but it’s been more than four years since he allegedly tested positive.
“This has become a personal battle between Defra and myself and they are prepared to take me to the cleaners because they can’t bring themselves to admit they are in the wrong.
“We believe we’ve proved that Geronimo is clear of TB from the time he was brought over from New Zealand until now.
“He’s had four skin tests prior to leaving and numerous other blood tests and there’s no evidence of bovine TB. But Defra will not accept these tests.
“They will not accept their initial test was flawed and have been standing by that result ever since.
"They have moved the goal posts as far as the tests go and now they just want to make an example of Geronimo and it’s just so unfair."
Less than a fortnight ago, she said she was hand-feeding the sweet creature its favourite foods.
"Every moment I get with him is special as it could be the last," she said.
"I’ve been hand-feeding him as it’s a bit more personal."
Cops said they were supporting the execution of a court warrant, adding: "Our role is to prevent a breach of the peace."
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