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The woolly mammoth of a sheep who waited three years to be shorn


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The woolly mammoth of a sheep who waited three years to be shorn

 

Last updated at 22:26pm on 22nd October 2007

Perhaps his owner feared being fleeced with the price of a haircut these days. But after three years without so much as a trim, Victa the sheep's woolly coat was starting to become a burden.

After a tip-off from neighbours in Melbourne, the Australian RSPCA stepped in to give Victa - who was being kept in a back yard to act as a lawnmower - a much-needed cut. Despite a few nicks along the way, Victa is now much happier, said RSPCA shelter supervisor Tamara Brown.

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victasheepRX2210_468x558.jpgCarrying a coat of three years' growth Victa could no longer eat grass from the lawn and had trouble walking

 

The woolly mammoth was rescued by RSPCA inspectors after neighbours in Brooklyn, in Melbourne's west, tipped them off this week. When discovered, he had not been shorn for three years and if his fleece got wet it weighed up to five times his body weight.

Ms Brown said: "His wool was very heavy. He really wasn't very mobile and he got tired very quickly."

Domestic sheep were bred to grow wool continuously and needed to be shorn yearly, she said. The excess wool could have led to health problems.

"The weight of the wool was putting extra pressure on his joints and he was having difficulty eating because he couldn't move his head up and down. Sheep can actually get stuck on the ground if they aren't shorn."

Ms Brown said Victa had perked up considerably since his haircut yesterday. "He feels a lot better since he's been shorn. He's certainly got more of a spring in his step."

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victasheepRX2210_468x501.jpgNow shorn, Victa will be moved to another home where he will be shorn when needed and be around other sheep

 

RSPCA inspectors apparently find farm animals in back yards more often than people would expect, Ms Brown said.

"There are quite a few people out there who keep livestock in inappropriate situations, like back yards. Often these people don't have the knowledge and experience needed to look after livestock."

This can lead to problems for the animals.

"For instance, in this situation the sheep wasn't being fed appropriately. Backyard lawn is not appropriate food for sheep."

The RSPCA were also concerned about how the lack of companionship had effected woolly mammoth Victa. Ms Brown said: "Livestock are generally herd animals and they get quite anxious and distressed without any company."

A foster home has been found for the sheep, who is estimated to be four or five years old.

"He is in quite good condition, considering what he has been through. We're confident of re-homing him next week," Ms Brown said. "He'll love having some company."

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