Australia

Overgrown Australian sheep Chris 'breaks world record'

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Media captionThe sheep is now recovering and said to be doing well

An overgrown Australian sheep affectionately named Chris has set a new unofficial world record following a hair cut from five shearers.

Welfare crews warned it risked death because it was so woolly from living in the wild for several years.

More than 40kg (88lb) of wool was removed in what the RSPCA says is the heaviest wool haul from one shearing.

National shearing champion Ian Elkins was urgently called in on Wednesday to tackle the mammoth merino.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Chris the sheep was spotted outside of Canberra on Australia's second day of Spring
Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Kangaroos outside Canberra are dwarfed by the woolliest sheep in the world

Mr Elkins described Thursday's marathon sheering session as one of his biggest challenges, saying he had never seen anything like it in 35 years of work.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Chris's hooves appear damaged after coping with the excess wool weight

Chris the sheep had to be sedated during the very delicate operation.

Image copyright RSCPA
Image caption The difference a day makes: Removing the excess wool cut Chris's weight in half

Mr Elkins said he was proud Australia had claimed the title from New Zealand, likening it to "the rivalry on the rugby field".

Image copyright RSCPA
Image caption Spring clean: Chris's world-record breaking wool is weighed

The massive bundle of fleece tipped the scales at more than 42kg (92lb), but was revised down to 40kg (88lb) to counter the weight of the bag.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption New do: Australian sheep Chris shows off a lighter look, complete with pink antiseptic stains

Animal welfare officials said Chris was "four-to-five times its normal size" before going under the knife.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Lightening the load: More than 40kg of wool was cut from Chris's tiny frame

In 2004, Shrek the New Zealand sheep was found after six years on the loose.

The animal - also a merino - later lost his giant 27kg (60lb) fleece in a televised shearing broadcast live around the world.

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