CANBERRA, Australia, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Animal rescuers in Australia said an expert shearer removed about 89 pounds of wool from a wandering sheep found with a massively overgrown fleece.
The RSPCA for the Australian Capital Territory said the sheep was found with what is believed to be several years worth of overgrown fleece near the Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve in the outskirts of Canberra and the animal, now dubbed Chris, was made 89 pounds lighter by champion shearer Ian Elkins.
Elkins was brought in by the RSPCA to complete the tricky shearing, which officials warned could lead to life-threatening shock in the sheep.
"It was a challenge but the sheep was calm and the vets gave it a mild sedation before we started the shear," Elkins told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "We started on the belly, just laid it on its back, kept it comfortable. There were parts of the sheep where we had to cut it in different layers because the problem for me shearing it was the weight of the fleece was pulling on the skin and we wanted to keep the skin cuts to a minimum."
The RSPCA said the enormous wool crop broke an unofficial world record set when a wandering sheep found in New Zealand was sheared for about 60 pounds worth of fleece.
RSPCA ACT boss Tammy Ven Dange tweeted pictures of Chris the sheep relaxing with his newly shorn coat.
"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," she said. "If we can't find the legal owner then we'll put him up for adoption."