A South Gloucestershire alpaca living on 'death row' could now be put down after an appeal was rejected.

Helen MacDonald lost a High Court battle in 2017 which ruled that Geronimo would need to be killed after testing positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTb).

She has always disputed the test result - claiming The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is "relying doggedly on flawed science"

Plans for euthanisation were temporarily put on hold while the 47-year-old launched a fight at the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision.

But that court has now refused Helen's application - leaving her "extremely disappointed" and running out of options.

This means her only remaining avenue is to take the issue all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in a last-ditch effort to save the animal.

Helen, who runs Alpaca Power in Wickwar, said in a statement: "It is with extreme disappointment that we must report that, on November 13, the Court of Appeal refused our application for permission to appeal the High Court's order.

"It is now almost five years since the last occasion upon which Geronimo could hypothetically have been exposed to bTB.

"Despite this, Geronimo appears, in the words of an expert camelid vet who recently examined him to grow ever healthier.

"Given the overwhelming evidence pointing to Geronimo's ongoing good health, we will continue to use every avenue still available to us to resist his needless slaughter at the hands of a cruel and unreflective government."

Six-year-old Geronimo, who is said to be worth £30,000, was brought to the UK from New Zealand in August 2017 and has been kept in isolation ever since.

Veterinary nurse Helen - an alpaca owner for 16 years - has fought a fierce year-long battle with Defra over the positive blood results in a bid to save Geronimo.

She even managed to crowdfund £10,000 in legal fees to have her case heard in the High Court.

Geronimo tested negative for bTB twice while still in New Zealand, but later tested positive in the UK in August and December 2017.

Helen has always claimed the test results were incorrect - and has been backed by the British Alpaca Society.

Mr Justice Murray dismissed Helen's case at the High Court in July, ruling there was no "compelling evidence" that the decision not to retest Geronimo was unlawful.