Chris the sheep has stolen people’s hearts around the globe.
He is a mulish merino sheep from Canberra, Australia who has set an unofficial Guinness world record* on Wednesday this week. For six years Chris has been left unshorn. He was found close to Mulligan’s Flat and, due to his unruly coat, was barely able to get around. His fleece measured an astounding 47 centimetre’s.
The RSPCA took custody of Chris to get him the help he needed. So the search began for a capable shearer. BBC, USA Today and even the New York Times all joined in to help find Chris a suitable barber. It was Ian Elkins, a national shearing champion, that offered his services for the daunting task. He told the press:
“Just the sheer volume and actually getting into the fleece was quite a challenge. (…) There [were] five of us [shearing the sheep] – everyone held a leg or a shoulder.”
Chris had to be mildly sedated because the job was so involved and time consuming. Elkins, even being a shearing champion, had a team of people helping him with Chris. The team rolled Chris onto his back before shearing off his coat in two layers. The first layer took three quarters of an hour to shear off. Elkins said:
“We had to cut it in a couple of layers because the weight of the fleece was pulling on the skin – to minimize the cuts.”
The removed coat weighed in at a staggering 40.45 kilograms. Despite the huge amount of fleece removed, it won’t be a valuable resource to anybody. Elkin explains:
“The fleece will have no commercial value. It’s not a great quality of fleece, there’s quite a bit of matter from running around in the bush all those years. It appears it has never been shorn before and it’s probably about six years old.”
There have been rumors, though, that the fleece will be either auctioned off or set up as a display for tourists.
Jane Gregor is an RSPCA ACT spokeswoman and confirmed that Chris did very well during the entire procedure. She said:
“(He) was quite relaxed through the whole process. We only had to stop on one occasion just to check heart rate but everything was fine. (…) Considering how stressed the sheep was yesterday after being captured we were worried about this and we were expecting it to take two to three hours. (…) The sheep itself actually started walking towards the shearing equipment. I think it was going, ‘Get this thing off me.’ He’s not fly-blown anywhere. He’s one very lucky sheep.”
The sweet boy will made available for adoption in a couple of weeks!
In case Chris is too sheepish to say it…THANK YOU Ian Elkins and your team for helping Chris get his life baa-aa-aack.
*Currently a sheep named Big Ben (from New Zealand) holds the record. In January 2014 he had his 28.9 kilograms of wool shorn off.
Terrie Burson “Chris the Aussie Sheep Produces Record Fleece” Youtube. 3 September 2015. Web. 4 September 2015.