RIP Shrek – not the curmudgeonly green ogre, but the woolly colossus who made headlines around the world after evading mustering for six years.
Shrek was no ordinary merino. If anything, he looked more like a giant cauliflower than a sheep.
By the time Shrek was discovered in a cave on Bendigo sheep station near New Zealand’s Southern Alps, he had avoided the shearer’s blades for six years. His 38cm (15ins) coat of merino wool had kept him alive despite the region’s harsh, snowy winters and searingly-hot summers.
Shrek had the full Brazilian – and more – on an iceberg off the coast of Dunedin. Shrek’s fabulous ‘fro yielded 27kg (59lb) of merino wool, which is six times as much as the average sheep.
Icebreaker stepped in to keep the newly-naked Shrek cosy with a specially-made coat, which he wore for an audience with then Prime Minister Helen Clark in Wellington. He flew in planes, visited hospitals and was immortalised in best-selling books, and in the process raised money for a children’s charity.
Fame never turned Shrek’s head, and his owners said he was a sheep of exceptional personality.
Alas, Shrek’s dream run has come to an end. At 17 – almost double his life expectancy – Shrek had to be put down after suffering health problems. Station owner John Perriam described him as “a great old mate” who was ready to go to sleep.
John wants Shrek’s ashes to be scattered at the top of Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, so he can look out over his old stamping ground. A service for Shrek will be held at the appropriately-named Church of the Good Shepherd.
“Layer up for warmth” is one of our favourite phrases at Icebreaker, and we’ve never met anyone who did it as well as Shrek. Farewell, old friend – we’ll miss ewe.