Merino sheep nicknamed Shrekopo, who grew a huge fleece, evading capture in New Zealand now 18.6 kg lighter after the first shave.

The animal was named Shrekapo in honor the famous sheep Shrek which was found with wool weighing 27 kg after six years of escape in 2004 and after Lake Tekapo, which is near where it was found.

Shrekapa was spotted hiding in the rocks last week, and was caught later that day, transferring nearly half of his body weight to wool. The animal has probably wandered the hills alone for the past three winters, said Gavin Loxton, owner of Saudon Station on Lake Tekapo.

“He had been spotted up there by rabbits and hunters on Tar, and he probably saw about three, but every time we were there to get him, no one could find him,” Loxton said. “We pretty much abandoned the whole process, but it’s back, so it’s great.”

The four-year-old is the latest in a series of elusive sheep in which fleece has grown, which is on the unofficial list of leaders of shaggy heavyweight champions in New Zealand and Australia, including: Chris, Shrek, Evenis, Baarak and Sheep Sean.

Loxton keeps 5,000 sheep at his station and said it is unclear how Shrekapa became a hermit sheep. He had a marked ear and tail, which involves removing the tail to reduce the chance of getting a fly. “We brought the lambs back after weaning … when we bought them all to wean, he was probably left upstairs by himself.

Just shaved Shrekopo. Photo: George Empson

“He was napping under a bush or something, no one will ever know.”

Shrekapa was blinded by his fur, and, like a sheep weighing about 40 kg, carried almost half the weight of his body in wool. “And that’s when it’s dry,” Loxton added.

Loxton and his team drank a few holiday drinks after finding Shrekap and “inventing a plan” to cut his hair at a farmers market on Easter Monday in Tekap. Three hundred locals and guests watched the spectacle, which Loxton said was great for the community after a couple of quiet years of the pandemic.

A fleece weighing 18.6kg will yield about 14kg of pure wool, which “will give you quite a bit of clothing,” Loxton said. After shaving Shrekop, he adjusted a little shakily to his new weight, but now happily “followed the sun like a sundial.”

“It’s a burden off his shoulders.”

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