Hermit sheep 'Shrek' shorn of 6-year-old woolly fleece
Shrek the hermit ram took six years to grow his massive fleece. On Wednesday, a champion shearer clipped it off in just 20 minutes on live television in this nation of 4 million people and 42 million sheep.
Named after the troll from the animated film, the merino sheep had been on the lam and living in mountain caves for six years after escaping from his domestic flock.
But after coming in from the cold, Shrek lay quietly on his back as former world champion blade shearer Peter Casserly clipped 60 pounds of fine merino wool from the sheep in front of a local audience of more than 250 and a TV audience stretching from New Zealand to Japan.
In this country where sheep outnumber people by more than 10-1, Shrek has become a star since being caught recently in New Zealand's South Island high country.
The merino was captured hiding in a rock cave near the top of the "Bendigo" high country ranch in Central Otago on South Island during an annual muster earlier this month.
Sheep station musterer Anne Scanlan said the elusive Shrek "was wild when we caught him ... and he's turned into such a character and personality."
Ranch owner John Perriam said the ram would have had "little food in winter" when snow piles up more than 6 feet deep, bitter winds blow across the mountain peaks, and grazing would only be possible when snow was blown off slopes.
The shearing ended with an unsteady Shrek wrapped in a special red and blue winter jacket fitted to protect him from the cold of the advancing Southern Hemisphere winter.
Children in the audience clapped as the sheep stood up, looking to be a quarter of his previous size.
Shrek's wool will be auctioned on the Internet, with proceeds being used for a "Cure Kids" cancer campaign in New Zealand.