New Zealand mourns Shrek the sheep
Published 07/06/2011 | 08:09
New Zealanders are mourning the loss of the country's most famous sheep - a shaggy national star called Shrek who was renowned for avoiding being shorn for years.
Shrek captured the public's imagination in 2004 after he evaded the annual shearing round-ups for seven years by hiding in caves on his farm on South Island. When finally found, he was clad in an astonishing 60lb of wool.
In a country where sheep outnumber people by nearly 10 to one, Shrek's story of stubbornness and guile appealed to many.
After his capture, Shrek - a Merino breed of sheep prized for having some of the softest wool - was shorn on live TV in a broadcast which was watched by millions around the world. His story even inspired three books.
"He was quite an elderly statesman," said owner John Perriam. "He taught us a lot."
Until falling ill three weeks ago, Shrek toured the country and commanded huge sums of money for appearances.
In one star turn, he was shorn on top of a large iceberg which was floating near the South Island coast.
Shrek was one of about 17,000 sheep on the the 27,000-acre Bendigo farm in the small town of Tarras.
Mr Perriam believes Shrek was able to survive the winters and avoid detection by moving about a series of sheltered caves and by munching on small native shrubs.
After Shrek became a star, Mr Perriam gave him his own barn and showroom. Shrek even had a personal carer to look after him when he became sick, before being put to sleep on Monday at the age of 17.