The fleece of Britain’s loneliest sheep is to be sold, with the money going to charity, after she was given a new look by a shearer.
The ewe, known as Fiona, was rescued on Saturday after spending more than two years separated from her flock at the foot of a cliff and had grown a huge fleece that was dragging on the ground.
Now the three-year-old is almost unrecognisable after her fleece was snipped off and sent to a specialist knitter.
It is hoped Fiona fans will soon be able to pick up souvenirs, with Wooldale Wool producing keepsakes that will be sold or raffled in aid of the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) and RSABI, the Scottish arm of a farming mental health charity.
Hand shears were used to ensure the sheep had a coat left for the winter, which she will spend getting accustomed to other sheep and to the staff at Dalscone Farm Fun in Dumfries.
“She’s been eating well, she’s been drinking well, she’s been doing amazing,” said Cammy Wilson, who sheared her and was part of the rescue team.
Fiona has become an unlikely celebrity, with posts from the farm being viewed 3m times. She has appeared live on ITV’s This Morning and her story has spread around the world, being covered by the likes of the New York Times.
Her plight is reminiscent of that of Shrek, a New Zealand sheep who escaped his enclosure and was not caught for six years, by which time he had grown a fleece weighing 27kg – enough wool to make 20 large men’s suits. Her rescuers had this in mind when they named her Fiona.
But her story has not been free from controversy – she was moved to her new home under the cover of darkness on Sunday night after being kept in hiding because of the arrival of protesters at Dalscone.
Police were called on Sunday after staff felt intimidated by the presence of peaceful protesters from the group Animal Rising.
Before the rescue, members of Animal Rising had spent three days scaling the cliff to build trust with Fiona, whom they called Sheepy, in partnership with the landowner.
They claimed they had an agreement to rescue the animal and take her to a sanctuary near Glasgow. However, on Saturday morning, when the group had left to fetch supplies, they said the owner brought in some farmers who took the sheep.
Robert Gordon, a spokesperson for the group, said: “All we want is for her to be in a sanctuary, not to be made a spectacle of in a petting zoo.”
He said the activists had hoped to find a compromise. However, Fiona’s eventual rescuers are hoping critics will understand that she is in a safe and comfortable place.
Wilson said in a social media post: “I’m hoping that all the support from the public will persuade the people opposed to what we are doing to leave and let us get the job done.”