Australian merino crowned the world’s woolliest sheep after he was found with a 41kg fleece dies in his sleep aged 10 – as his carers pay tribute to the ‘sweet, wise and friendly’ soul
- Record-breaking Australian merino sheep called Chris has died in Canberra
- Canberra sanctuary taking care of her said he was believed to be 10-years-old
- Chris the Sheep made international headlines after being discovered in 2015
- Experts had feared he would not survive because of the size of his woolly coat
- But a champion shearer stepped into remove a mammoth 41.1kg from the sheep
An Australian Merino sheep who made headlines for the record-breaking weight of his fleece has died, aged 10.
The New South Wales sanctuary taking care of animal, Chris, revealed he was found dead on Tuesday morning by his minders after failing to arrive to his daily breakfast.
‘We have heartbreaking news. Chris the sheep has passed away,’ the Little Oak Sanctuary said in a Facebook post.
‘We are heartbroken at the loss of this sweet, wise, friendly soul. Chris is known as the world record holder for having grown the heaviest fleece on record.
An Australian merino sheep named Chris (pictured) which made headlines for the record-breaking weight of his fleece has died
The New South Wales sanctuary taking care of Chris the sheep revealed the animal (pictured) was found dead on Tuesday morning by his minders having died of old age
‘He was so much more than this, so very much more, and we will remember him for all that he was – someone, not something – here with us, not for us.’
Chris was spotted in 2015 by a bushwalker on the northern outskirts of Canberra, Australia’s capital, and experts feared he would not survive due to the size of his coat.
Four-time national shearing champion Ian Elkins was brought into remove 41.1kg of wool from Chris – the most ever taken from a sheep in a single shearing.
When Chris was discovered four years ago, he was struggling to walk under the weight of his wool, which had not be shorn in more than five years.
The wool removed – worth about $413.6 at current prices – made him the unofficial carrier of the world’s heaviest fleece.
The life-saving discovery of Chris the sheep
When Chris was first brought in, then-RSPCA ACT boss Tammy Ven Denge said he was shy.
But after having his wool shorn, Ms Van Denge had gone from standoff-ish to wanting cuddles.
‘He’s a new man in many ways, he’s actually moving really well, he’s already eating, he actually came up to us for a cuddle,’ Ms Van Dange told the ABC.
Merino sheep are bred for shearing and need to have their fleece removed regularly
Litte Oak Sanctuary co-founder Kate Luke said Chris became the sheep who was always at the front of the pack.
‘Gradually he became more confident and up the front of the group, he would always go for head scratches,’ Ms Luke told The Canberra Times.
‘He was a sanctuary favourite and he had a deep baritone noise and was always one of the first to arrive for food.’
Four-time national shearing champion Ian Elkins was brought into remove 41.1kg of wool from Chris – the most ever taken from a sheep in a single shearing
Chris’ fleece dethroned that of New Zealand sheep Big Ben, who was found carrying nearly 29 kilograms of wool in 2014.
The fleece was later put on show in the National Museum of Australia’s Old New Land gallery.
Mr Elkins had to do the shearing in two layers and needed four helpers to do the job.
He began shearing about 9am and took about 45 minutes to finish the first pass.
The average fleece weighs 5kg and takes just three minutes to shear.
Elkins had to do the shearing in two layers and needed four helpers to do the job. He began shearing about 9am and took about 45 minutes to finish the first pass
The champion shearer said at the time he estimated he cut seven years’ worth of growth – double the sheep’s body weight.
‘I wouldn’t say it is high quality, but you wouldn’t expect it to be after so long in the bush,’ Elkins said of the fleece.
‘It’s amazing it has survived all these years out in the wild,’ he said.
The RSPCA said there have been a number of cases where sheep have lost their flock and lived in the wild.
When Chris was first brought in, then-RSPCA ACT boss Tammy Ven Denge said he was shy but after having his wool shorn, she said he had gone from standoff-ish to wanting cuddles