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Massively overgrown sheep yields 30 sweaters worth of wool

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Chris the sheep, before his shearing. Photo: RSPCA

When a wayward sheep was discovered Wednesday near Canberra, Australia, wearing a massive coat of fleece that ballooned several feet from its body, it was determined that a shearing was needed asap to save the critter’s life.

That task was carried out Thursday by a professional shearer, and resulted in the harvest of 89 pounds of wool, or about 30 sweaters worth.

That's a world-record sheep haircut, by about 25 pounds, and the Canberra RSPCA, which appears to have rescued Chris from dying a slow death, will register the paperwork with Guinness World Records.

"I think he's a new man," Tammy Ven Dange, executive director of the RSPCT, told the Associated Press. "Not only half the size, but his personality's already changed. Yesterday he was hiding in the corner. He didn't want to have any contact whatsoever. He could barely stand up and he certainly couldn't walk very well."

Today Chris, a merino breed, is downright svelte, tipping the scale at 97 pounds, or about half his weight when he was discovered by hikers, or bushwalkers, near Mulligans Flat Reserve.

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Chris the sheep, before and after. Photo: RSPCA

His fleece had become so heavy that it was pulling at his skin, and the onset of the Southern Hemisphere summer would make survival all the more difficult for an animal wearing such a massive coat.

He was discovered several miles from the nearest sheep farm, determined merely to have become lost several years ago, and named after the sheep in the "Father Ted” TV comedy series.

The precarious task of shearing Chris, after several top-level shearers were interviewed for the job, fell to national champion Ian Elkins, who agreed that the sheep came away from the experience in much better shape.

"I don't reckon he's been shorn before, and I reckon he'd be 5 or 6 years old," Elkins told the AP.

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