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Sheep, Chris, with world record for heaviest wool, dies in Australia

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Chris, the record-breaking sheep who tugged at animal lovers’ hearts with his heavy coat, has died, an Australian animal sanctuary says.

Chris the sheep, a Merino who was rescued in 2015 after being spotted alone in the wild, set the record for the world’s heaviest fleece sheared from a sheep, carrying about 90 pounds of wool at the time.

“This is no title to covet, as it amounts to being the most neglected sheep in the world,” says Little Oak Sanctuary, who cared for Chris after his rescue.

The animal sanctuary said Chris died Tuesday at almost 10 years of age. 

“He will live on in our memories, but his presence will be missed by both his sheep and human friends who loved him. Chris teaches us that we are all more than what happens to us. He was someone, not something,” Little Oak wrote on its website.

Chris was a miracle sheep, one that probably should not have survived, the sanctuary says.

When he was spotted by hikers in Canberra, Chris’ wool weighed double his body weight.

“He had been living a sad life of isolation with only mobs of kangaroos as his company for an amazing period of five years,” Little Oak said.

The sanctuary says that sheep bred specifically for their wool, like Merinos, can’t shed and produce wool year round.

Shearing sheep helps the animal’s health, keeping it cool in summer heat and protecting it against flies and “wool-blindness,” damage caused to its eyesight from too long of wool.

According to the National Museum of Australia, Chris had only weeks to live when he was found, as his mobility was severely hampered by his heavy coat.

It was unclear how Chris got loose, and no one ever was able to prove ownership, the museum says.

Once Chris was brought in for shearing, it took more than 40 minutes. The next year, when Chris had a healthier coat of just 13 pounds, it took only six minutes, Little Oak said.

Despite the neglect for the first half of his life, Chris lived out his days at Little Oak Sanctuary as “a gentle, character filled chap.”

“His bleat was loud and deep, and instantly recognizable,” the animal sanctuary wrote.

Chris’ fleece is on display at the National Museum of Australia.

Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

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