Overgrown sheep yields record 88 pounds of woolPublished: Thursday,
September 3, 2015

An Australian sheep that had escaped from its flock years earlier was saved
today through heroic shearing that stripped a record 88 pounds of wool off
the animal.

"It's definitely one of the biggest sheep we've ever seen," Tammy Ven Dange
of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Australia
told Agence-France Presse.

Chris, as the fluffy sheep was named by its discoverer, could barely walk
or see because of his massive coat, and he was at risk of contracting skin
parasites. If he had fallen over in the wild, he would have likely starved
or been eaten by a predator.

Wild sheep shed their coats annually, but humans have bred domestic sheep
to grow their coats continuously.

Four-time Australian shearing champion Ian Elkins responded to a call by
Ven Dange for help, though the professional had to contend with the heavy
wool pulling hard on Chris' skin, making the risk of cutting him very high.

"[This] could be one of my biggest challenges yet," Elkins said yesterday.

Further adding to the challenge was Chris' skittish and reclusive nature
from years of solitary living away from humans.

"He has obviously not been around people in a very long time, and it's
probably going to take a couple of goes before we get it all off him," Ven
Dange told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. yesterday. "He could go into
shock during the shearing process tomorrow, so we're going to sedate him to
try and take some of that pressure off him."

This morning, Elkins sheared the 88.2 pounds of wool off Chris in a
45-minute operation; most shearing jobs take between 30 seconds and 2
minutes. The record amount of merino wool weighed nearly as much as Chris,
who came in at 97 pounds post-shearing. Chris' product easily beat the
previous record of about 60 pounds set in New Zealand.

"It's actually smashed the record," Elkins told the London *Guardian*.
"It's very exciting to be part of it, and it's quite pleasing that the
welfare of this sheep was taken care of" (Michael E. Miller, *Washington
Sept. 3). *-- BTP*

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