Tuesday, September 22, 2015


This is a true story about a sheep that lived in New Zealand, and his name was Shrek.  He was born in 1994 and lived at Bendigo Station, near the town of Tarras, on the South Island.  Shrek was a Merino sheep, and he did not like to be sheared.  So when it was time for shearing in the spring, he ran off and hid in a cave.  No one could find him for SIX YEARS, and by that time, his wool was really, really long!


When Shrek was finally found in 2004, he didn't even look much like a sheep anymore.  His owner, John Perriam, said "He looked like some biblical creature!"  It took about 20 minutes to shear him, and his fleece weighed about 60 pounds.  That was enough wool to make 20 large men's suits.  The normal weight for a Merino pelt is about 10 lb., with really big ones sometimes weighing as much as 33 lb.

Usually, Merino sheep are sheared once a year, in the spring.  Young sheep are sometimes frightened by the process, but it only takes 5 or 10 minutes for a professional shearer to do it.  As sheep get older, they learn that shearing doesn't hurt, and they are more relaxed.

The wool on domestic sheep will keep growing and growing if they are not sheared.  The sheep have evolved this way because of how humans groom them.  Wild sheep such as Bighorns shed their wool, so they don't need to be sheared.  If a domestic sheep is not sheared, it can cause a lot of problems for the sheep.  A full fleece can lead to heat stress in summer.  Also, there can be problems with mobility and with impaired vision.


Shrek's shearing was done live on national TV, and right away he became a celebrity.  His wool was auctioned off to raise money for charity, and a children's book was written about him.  Also, Shrek got to meet Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

In November, 2006, Shrek was shorn again.  This time the shearing was done on an iceberg floating off the coast of Dunedin, New Zealand.  It seems strange to shear a sheep on an iceberg, but it was done to make more publicity and raise money for charity.

In New Zealand, there are 10 times more sheep than people, but that didn't keep Shrek from winning the hearts of the many Kiwis.  The famous sheep raised money for charities, helped publicize the wool industry, made hundred of public appearances, and contributed millions to the economy.

So when Shrek had to be put to sleep in 2011, everyone was very sad.  He was 16 years old, which is equal to about 90 in human years.  He had been sick and in pain for about 3 weeks, so that's why his owner decided to let him go.


Shrek tried to be a hermit, but he ended up in the limelight instead.  He did a lot of good things for his country, and he will always be remembered fondly.


  1. I saw that sheep pic! I think the name suited him and he was probably glad to have all that wool sheared off :) 90 human years is a long time! Shrek lived a full life :)

    1. Yes, poor guy! I think he must have felt like a whole new sheep after his shearing!