Chris the sheep's massive fleece has become a museum exhibit

Sheep Looks Unrecognizable After 80 Pounds of Wool Is Sheared
Sheep Looks Unrecognizable After 80 Pounds of Wool Is Sheared

Chris the sheep once got lost in Australian bushland, but now he's a world record holder and a museum exhibit.

The sheep was found in August 2015 wandering in a paddock by a member of the public on Mulligan's Flat, north of Canberra.

Due to the length of time he was out in the world, Chris was sporting an unusually large amount of fleece. The weight of the wool made it difficult for him to walk and he may have had only weeks to live.

After it was noticed that Chris wasn't moving, he was taken to an RSPCA shelter and eventually sheared by Ian Elkins, a four-time Australian Shearing Championship winner. The event was live tweeted.

The fleece ended up setting a Guinness World Record for the world's "heaviest sheep fleece," weighing 41.1 kilograms (90.3 lbs) and smashing records, previously set in New Zealand, by more than 12 kilograms (26.4 lbs). Now, it's on show for the public to see.

See photos of Chris during his shearing last year:

"We had numerous opportunities with the fleece, but at the end, we believed that it should be preserved in its entirety and displayed as a reminder of how dependent these animals are on humans for their welfare," RSPCA ACT CEO Tammy Ven Dange said in a statement.

The fleece is currently on display at the RSPCA ACT's Weston shelter in collaboration with the National Museum of Australia, a proud display of Chris's endurance. It will then move to the National Museum where it will become part of the permanent collection.

"Chris's story was one of survival. How did he manage to avoid feral foxes and dogs? How did he go unnoticed for so long? How did he manage to find adequate food and water while carrying his body weight in wool?" Ven Dange said.


Image: Jason McCarthy/National Museum of Australia

When Chris's fleece was removed by Elkins, skin infections were discovered under the wool, so it required treatment and freezing to make it suitable for display. The fleece was "damp, dirty, smelly and showed evidence of insect activity," according to the National Museum of Australia.

The length of his wool leads to the belief he had gone without shearing for at least five years, although it is possible he used to live on a farm as he had already been de-sexed and had markings. Farmers looking to claim Chris weren't able to match his markings, meaning whoever owned him remains a mystery.



It's an easier life now for the world record holder, Chris has been adopted and lives on a farm in New South Wales. His newfound celebrity status will hopefully get him a little more love and attention, along with a shear here and there.

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