Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shrek, the Wooliest Sheep Ever

Shrek, the hermit Merino wether, grew a 15-inch (38 cm) staple, 60-pound (27 kg) fleece!

Shrek, the wooliest sheep ever.
Photograph © Barry Bland/Minden Pictures

Shrek was born in 1994 at Bendigo Station, a sheep station near Terras, New Zealand. He left his flock (an act almost unheard of in close-flocking Merinos) and hid out in caves for six years. His solitary hiding place was discovered by shepherd Ann Scanlan in April 2004 and Shrek was returned to Bendigo Station. He became an international celebrity when he was sheared on national television so that his fleece could be auctioned, with the proceeds earmarked for a children’s charity, Cure Kids.

A gentle guy, Shrek made many public appearances during the rest of his long life, including meeting Prime Minister Helen Clark. To celebrate his 10th birthday, 30 months after his initial shearing, Shrek was shorn again on an iceberg floating off the coast of Dunedin, New Zealand.

Shrek was the subject of three books and he figured prominently in a fourth. Shrek: The Famous Hermit Sheep of Terras was written by students at the local Terras school, where book sales still fund a second full-time teacher. Cure Kids continues to receive the royalties from two books penned by John Perriam of Bendigo Station, Dust to Gold and Shrek: The Story of a Kiwi Icon; in all, Shrek has raised more than $150,000 for Cure Kids to date.

Shrek, who suffered from arthritis as he grew older, was humanely euthanized on June 6, 2011, at 16 years of age. His stuffed remains are on display at Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum.

Excerpted from The Backyard Sheep © 2013 by Sue Weaver.

Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including the Western HorsemanHorse IllustratedChronicle of the HorseFlying ChangesHorseman’s MarketArabian Horse Times, the Appaloosa News, the Quarter Horse JournalHorse’N Around, and the Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature LivestockThe Donkey Companion, The Backyard Goat, and The Backyard Sheep. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

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