New Zealand's most famous sheep dies

New Zealand's most famous sheep dies

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New Zealanders are mourning Shrek who was renowned for avoiding being shorn for years. AP

Shrek went missing from his herd in 1998 and was assumed dead until he was found in a mountain cave six years later, sporting a massive fleece that made him appear three times his normal size.

The public in New Zealand, where sheep outnumber the 4.3 million human population almost 10 to 1, took the rambling ruminant to their hearts.

Television stations carried live broadcasts when a shearer clipped his oversize fleece, which weighed in at almost 27 kilogram, around six times the wool normally gathered from the average merino.

The sheep was flown to meet then prime minister Helen Clark at the national parliament in Wellington, became the subject of several children’s books and made regular charity appearances.

But owner John Perriam said Shrek had to be put down over the weekend as, at 16 years old, his health was failing. “He was just an ordinary sheep, went AWOL and hid, and when he was found he became the darling of the nation,” Perriam said.

“He had an unbelievable personality. He loved children and he was really good with the elderly in retirement homes.”

Josie Spillane from the charity Cure Kids said it was impossible to estimate how much money the sheep had raised for worthy causes.

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