A tribute to Chris: the world's woolliest sheep and most beloved Father Ted fan
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A tribute to Chris: the world's woolliest sheep and most beloved Father Ted fan

HE WAS one of Ireland’s most beloved adopted sons and this week the world said goodbye to Chris, the world’s woolliest sheep, following his unexpected death.

Chris’s story was astonishing, to say the least.

In 2015, hikers found him staggering around the Australian outback somewhere close to Canberra.

At the time, Chris carrying an astonishing 41 kilograms of wool.

A born survivor, it became apparent he had been wandering the outback for around six years.

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By the time he was rescued, the sheer weight of the wool he was carrying made it almost impossible for Chris to stand.

His survival up to this point had been nothing short of a miracle, but the merino needed help.

Chris’s fleece was so overgrown there were concerns his life was in danger.

In the end, the RSPCA ACT intervened to shear some 40.2kg of wool from his body.

It was a mammoth task and one that made Chris the carrier of the world’s heaviest known fleece.

He overtook a New Zealand sheep by the name of Big Ben, which was found carrying nearly 29kg of wool back in 2014.

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Four-time national shearing champion Ian Elkins was brought in to complete the task.

By the time Chris was sheered, the wool had reached the size of a small car and was worth €250.

Yet the process brought about an astonishing transformation.

Chris went from being cautious to kind and affectionate.

“He's a new man in many ways, he's actually moving really well, he's already eating, he actually came up to us for a cuddle,” then-RSPCA ACT boss Tammy Ven Denge told the ABC at the time.

“Gradually he became more confident and up the front of the group, he would always go for head scratches,” Little Oak Sanctuary co-founder Kate Luke told The Canberra Times.

“He was a sanctuary favourite and he had a deep baritone noise and was always one of the first to arrive for food.”

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Chris’s newfound fame brought him attention, a home and a brand-new name.

Avid Father Ted fans, some of the volunteers at the sanctuary decided to name their newfound charge after a memorable character from the classic Irish sitcom.

And thus, Chris was born, named after one of Craggy Island's most decorated "King of The Sheep" winners.

There was even a children's book written about Chris, with proceeds from sales of the book going toward the RSPCA.

The past few years brought a level of peace and tranquillity to Chris’s life who was a popular and much-loved fixture at the sanctury.

The announcement by Little Oak Sanctuary of Chris’s sad passing came as a shock.

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Luke told the Canberra Times: 'He's been really happy and healthy recently. His death came out of the blue. His system just gave way.

“Chris was coming up to 10 years, and generally sheep can live up to 12 years old. We found him on Tuesday morning when he didn't show up to get breakfast.

“He was a sanctuary favourite and he had a deep baritone noise and was always one of the first to arrive for food.”

But fans of the world’s most famous sheep can at least console themselves with the knowledge that Chris had found peace. He had found a home.

“Chris the sheep has passed away. We are heartbroken at the loss of this sweet, wise, friendly soul,” Little Oak Sanctuary said.

“Chris is known as the world record holder for having grown the heaviest fleece on record.

"He was so much more than this, so very much more, and we will remember him for all that he was - someone, not something - here with us, not for us.

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“RIP dear Chris.”