Saturday 16 December 2017

New Zealand mourns Shrek the sheep

Shrek the sheep being being shorn in 2004 (AP)
Shrek the sheep being being shorn in 2004 (AP)

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.

Press Association

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