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Bigger than Ben Hur: Chris the sheep sets an unofficial Guinness world record

It's the wild and woolly tale which has captured the world's attention.

Now Canberra's Chris the sheep, a mulish merino which eluded the shears for six years, is sporting a brand new 'do and has set an unofficial Guinness world record.

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The man who sheared world's wooliest sheep

Canberra's "Chris" the sheep set a world record. Hear shearer Ian Elkins describe how it went.

The flocculent fugitive was found near Mulligan's Flat on Wednesday. It was barely able to walk due to the burden of its 47-centimetre fleece.

A callout for a shearer to remove the potentially fly-blown wool attracted the interest of the BBC, USA Today and the New York Times. RSPCA ACT even fielded phone calls from the Polish media.

Help came in the form of national shearing champion Ian Elkins. Without a hint of irony, Mr Elkins described the record-breaking shear as a "bit of a buzz".

"Just the sheer volume and actually getting into the fleece was quite a challenge," he said.


"There [were] five of us [shearing the sheep] – everyone held a leg or a shoulder."

After the sheep was mildly sedated, Mr Elkins and his team rolled it on its back and sheared in two layers, beginning with the belly. The first pass took about 45 minutes.

"We had to cut it in a couple of layers because the weight of the fleece was pulling on the skin – to minimise the cuts," he said.

Despite the mammoth coat weighing in at 40.45 kilograms, don't expect it to yield too many woollen jumpers.

"The fleece will have no commercial value. It's not a great quality of fleece, there's quite a bit of matter from running around in the bush all those years. It appears it has never been shorn before and it's probably about six years old," Mr Elkins said.

RSPCA ACT spokeswoman Jane Gregor said she was surprised by how well Chris handled his haircut.

"It was quite relaxed through the whole process. We only had to stop on one occasion just to check heart rate but everything was fine," she said.

"Considering how stressed the sheep was yesterday after being captured we were worried about this and we were expecting it to take two to three hours.

"The sheep itself actually started walking towards the shearing equipment. I think it was going, 'Get this thing off me.' He's not fly-blown anywhere. He's one very lucky sheep."

Chris is now sporting a new lightweight coat and will likely be offered for adoption in a week or two.

There is also talk of auctioning the fleece off or setting it up in a permanent display.

Sheep are usually shorn every 12 months, yielding about five kilograms of fleece.

Other luminary livestock include a New Zealand sheep, known as Shrek, that had avoided musterers for six years and found fame in 2004 when it was discovered in a cave with 27 kilograms of unshorn wool.

The current Guinness World Record belongs to another New Zealand sheep, Big Ben, with 28.9 kilograms of wool that was shorn off in January, 2014.