Animal Talk with Tammy Ven Dange: A sheepish tale is told | September 26

It was September 2, 2015, and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. It was on that day that RSPCA ACT rescued a single sheep in need of a severe haircut after a member of the public informed our inspectors about his woolly plight. It took us a few days to find him, and five staff members (plus the finder) to get him back to the shelter. 

HAIRCUT TIME: Chris the sheep just before he saw a pair of shears for the first time in several years. You can read about it in Tammy Ven Dange's new book. Photo: RSPCA.

HAIRCUT TIME: Chris the sheep just before he saw a pair of shears for the first time in several years. You can read about it in Tammy Ven Dange's new book. Photo: RSPCA.

This story unfolded via social media when I shared a picture on Twitter to request the help of a shearer. Within just a few hours, ‘Chris the Sheep’ became a household name across the world as they watch the drama unfold. Would we find a shearer in time? Would he survive the ordeal? Would he be covered by infection underneath the massive wool? Did he break the Guinness World Record? And then finally, would he ever find a new home?

The answer to all of these questions was yes. The remarkable thing is that two years later, we still regularly get media calls around his story. From Japan to Dubai to the USA… everyone still seems to be captured by Chris’s tale.

WOOLLY COAT: Tammy Ven Dange unveils Chris's huge fleece in 2015 with National Museum of Australia director Mathew Trinca. Photo: Graham Tidy.

WOOLLY COAT: Tammy Ven Dange unveils Chris's huge fleece in 2015 with National Museum of Australia director Mathew Trinca. Photo: Graham Tidy.

Despite the journalists’ best efforts though, there is still quite a bit of the story that has yet to be told to the public, and we believe that the missing parts are just as important to share because he almost died from his ordeal.

No one is really sure how Chris managed to become so overgrown with wool, and given that he was found so close to the NSW/ACT border, he could have come from anywhere. If he was lost, it happened at least five or six years earlier, meaning that most owners would have believed that he had died by now. 

Part of the untold story answers the question, “How did Chris become so big?” In our new children’s book released this week called, “The Misadventures of Chris the Sheep,” we’ve taken some creative liberties to recreate the story of how Chris might have lost his flock.

If you’re looking for something different to do this school holiday, bring your kids along to the free book launch at the National Museum of Australia on September 28 at 10.30am. You can get the book there, and I’ll be happy to sign it then too. It will also be available at our Weston Shelter or via our website with all proceeds going back to the shelter to support our work. These funds are particularly important as we begin our new children’s education program later this year 

The other part of the untold story is related to his rescue. We still have many never before shown photos and the story behind them. Those of you who are keen to know more should visit our website at www.christhesheep.com.

As for Chris, he’s doing really well. He’s loving life with his new flock at Little Oaks Sanctuary in NSW, and now once a year, Chris will be sheared and will live happily ever after!

WHAT: Book Launch of RSPCA ACT’s children’s book ‘The Misadventures of Chris the Sheep’

WHEN: Thursday 28th September, 10.30am

WHERE: National Museum of Australia

  • Tammy Ven Dange is the CEO of RSPCA ACT and the author of “The Misadventures of Chris, the Sheep.” Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @tvendange.