Australian sheep breaks world record with mammoth fleece

A giant woolly sheep, nicknamed Chris, is seen before getting shorn in the outskirts of Canberra on Sept 3, 2015.
A giant woolly sheep, nicknamed Chris, is seen before getting shorn in the outskirts of Canberra on Sept 3, 2015.PHOTO: AFP/RSPCA
Australian sheep shearer Ian Elkins shearing wool from Chris the sheep on Sept 3, 2015 (right), and Chris the sheep after the 41.1kg of wool was taken off it.
Australian sheep shearer Ian Elkins shearing wool from Chris the sheep on Sept 3, 2015 (right), and Chris the sheep after the 41.1kg of wool was taken off it.PHOTOS: REUTERS/RSPCA

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian sheep that underwent a life-saving shave after being found with a massive fleece has entered the Guinness World Records for having the most wool sheared in a single sitting.

The merino sheep, which was nicknamed Chris after it was found wandering alone just outside Australia's capital Canberra in early September, had 41.1 kilograms of wool taken off in one piece by a champion shearer.

Guinness World Records said on its website that it had verified the record, which displaced the previous woolly champion Big Ben, an animal shorn of 28.9 kilograms in New Zealand in 2014.

"We certainly didn't have the world record as priority when we sheared Chris, but we appreciate the recognition," Tammy Ven Dange, the head of the RSPCA in the Australian Capital Territory, said in a statement Wednesday.

"We can only hope that record is never broken again because it would be unlikely that the animal would live to tell the story." Chris' plight made global headlines following Ven Dange's tweet appealing for help from a shearer after the overgrown animal was spotted by bushwalkers.

Ven Dange said that merino sheep were bred for their wool and they could face health issues, or even die, if not sheared regularly.

The fleece has been donated to the National Museum in Canberra, while Chris was re-homed in a hobby farm in neighbouring New South Wales state.