John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Its humongous fleece has reportedly set a world record for weight.
Leave a sheep unshorn for long enough and it’ll begin to resemble a shambling, woolly iceberg. But as cute as that sounds, it’s a bad idea: Massively hairy sheep face many dangers, from heat stress to blindness to toppling over and never being able to get up again.
A man recently stumbled upon such an overgrown sheep outside the Australian capital of Canberra. With an estimated five years’ worth of wool on its frame, the animal, presumed long-lost from its herd, was more fuzz than flesh. The country’s RSPCA rescued it on Tuesday and announced it was going to attempt a dicey shearing. Reported the Canberra Times:
“There could be infections, flystrike, [the coat] could prevent him from going to the bathroom. There could be a really nasty thing under that coat but we won't know that until we get there,” RSPCA ACT boss Tammy Ven Dange said.
It had been so long since the overgrown sheep had contact with humans, that just the process of shearing could lead to shock and death, Ms Ven Dange said.
But the sheep will be sedated to give it the best possible chance of survival.
Well, good news for the bushy beast—with the help of a globe-trotting groomer who’s won more than 100 shearing competitions, the operation appears to have gone fine. The now-detached pelt, weighing almost 90 pounds, is thought to be a world-record breaker. For anyone who’s wondered what it looks like to remove something that large from an animal, follow the shearing’s wonderful progression on Twitter: