Shrek, New Zealand’s Biggest Celebrity Sheep, Dies at 16

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REUTERS/Simon Baker

You want celebrity? Then try being a sheep on the run in New Zealand.

The famous run of Shrek (that’s the name of the sheep, for those keeping score at home) came to a sad end this week, as the 16-year-old was put down. The Kiwi’s prized sheep became famous after eluding his owners for six years‑cue the sheep on the lam jokes here—before being found hiding in an Otago cave. That was in 2004.

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During his cave-living days, Shrek grew a fleece weighing 60 pounds, roughly six times the average coach for a merino wether, a castrated male sheep. A New Zealand television audience roughly the same size as the one in that watched the 1997 funeral of Princess Diana tuned in for the live shearing of Shrek. His wool hit the charity auction market, fetching high prices.

Shrek spent more time in the limelight than any other New Zealand-born sheep (or a sheep of any nationality, for that matter), even being flown to meet then-prime minister Helen Clark.

Two years after the first live television event, just to keep the allure of Shrek alive, a live shearing on an iceberg floating off the coast wowed the New Zealand audience. And there’s even a book about the life of Shrek. It’s all just typical celebrity stuff for New Zealand.

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