New Zealand mourns Shrek the sheep

The BBC's Anna Holligan says there are plans for a bronze statue to mark Shrek's life

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Shrek the New Zealand sheep, whose ability to avoid the shearers made him a national celebrity, has died.

Shrek came to prominence in 2004 after evading capture for six years by hiding in caves on the South Island.

The cunning Merino lost his giant 27kg (60lb) fleece in a televised shearing.

The 16-year-old sheep had a high-profile career. He met then Prime Minister Helen Clark, became the subject of several children's books and made regular charity appearances.

Shrek's owner, John Perriam, of Bendigo Hill station, said the famous sheep had to be put down over the weekend because of age-related illnesses.

"He was just an ordinary sheep, went Awol and hid, and when he was found he became the darling of the nation," Mr Perriam told local broadcaster TVNZ.

"He had an unbelievable personality. He loved children and he was really good with the elderly in retirement homes."

Shrek's giant fleece - enough to make 20 large men's suits - was auctioned off in 2004 for children's medical charities.

Josie Spillane of Cure Kids said over the years Shrek had raised more than $150,000 (£75,000) for the charity, which funded research into life-threatening illnesses.

"At the end of the day, it is the death of an iconic Kiwi. He just happens to be a sheep," she told the Southland Times.

Local reports said a memorial service would be held for Shrek at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tekapo, and that his owner planned to place a bronze statue of the sheep in the local town.

Mr Perriam said that Shrek's legacy would continue.

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