Sheep with famously overgrown fleece dies in Australia

Published: October 22, 2019 12:54:06 | Updated: October 28, 2019 14:12:12

An Australian sheep, named Chris by his rescuers, is pictured before being shorn of over 40 kilograms (88.2 lbs) of wool on September 3, 2015, after being found near Australia's capital city Canberra. REUTERS/RSPCA/Handout via Reuters

Chris the sheep, a merino famed for once being discovered with the world's heaviest fleece, has died in Australia.

The animal generated global attention in 2015 after being spotted in the wild carrying what was described as six years' worth of wool.

A life-saving haircut followed, with a shearer removing 41.1kg (88lb) of fleece - later confirmed to be a world record.

On Tuesday, his carers at a New South Wales farm said he had died of old age.

"We are heartbroken at the loss of this sweet, wise, friendly soul," the Little Oak Sanctuary wrote online.

Chris was thought to be aged 10 - a fairly average lifespan for a merino sheep, reports the BBC.

He won many fans after being spotted and rescued near Canberra four years ago.

At the time, animal welfare experts warned that the weight of the wool - at almost five times the normal size - was a risk to his health.

It was later removed by a national shearing champion, Ian Elkins, who said he had never seen anything like it in 35 years of work.

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