Barrilliant! Fiona, the loneliest sheep in the world, settles into a new life at a ‘five-star’ animal shelter – after threats from protesters forced her into hiding
Britain’s loneliest sheep has been given a new home at a ‘five-star’ animal shelter, despite attempts by animal rights campaigners to prevent her arrival.
The ewe, named Fiona, was sneaked past protestors carrying banners into Dalscone Family Farm in Dumfries at night by owner Ben Best.
This morning Mr Best proudly broadcast images of the sheep, believed to be three years old, happily eating hay in her own pen in a barn, surrounded by curious stablemates.
Speaking on a Facebook Live at 9am this morning, Farmer Ben said: ‘Fiona is here. We had to sneak her into the farm yesterday to get past the protesters.
‘But as you can see, she is very happy. She’s in her own cage. She is safe and dry and completely relaxed.’
Britain’s loneliest sheep, Fiona, has a new home in a ‘five-star’ animal shelter, despite attempts by animal rights campaigners to prevent her arrival
Fiona was sneaked past demonstrators with banners into the Dalscone Family Farm in Dumfries at night by owner ‘Farmer Ben Best’
Yesterday, Mr Ben had announced that plans to house Fiona in the attraction had been shelved following threats from protesters who did not want the ewe to be displayed in a ‘petting zoo’.
Drones were flown over the farm in south-west Scotland and protesters descended on his family home waving banners, he claimed.
But the farmer claims Fiona will have five months to ‘settle in’ and ‘make friends’ before Dalscone Family Farm reopens to the public in the summer.
The sheep was rescued from a remote island in the Cromarty Firth, north of Inverness, where she is believed to have been trapped for two years after falling from a steep cliff.
She had protected herself from the North Sea storms in a cave and her fur had grown out of control.
But she was rescued this weekend by a bunch of young Scottish farmers who clambered off the cliff and used 200 meters of rope and a manger to make a makeshift swing to carry the sheep to safety.
Farmer Ben added: “Fiona has arrived in her new forever home. And I’m happy to announce that she is doing absolutely phenomenally.
“She’s been eating well, she’s been drinking well and she’s doing great.”
Britain’s loneliest sheep (pictured on the farm after the rescue) rescued by a group of five volunteers after being stranded on a rocky beach for two years
Fiona (pictured after she was sheared), was sheared by the group of farmers who rescued her
The group of five farmers, led by sheep shearer Cammy Wilson (pictured far left), who rescued Fiona from the rocky beach
Fiona was first spotted by kayaker Jillian Turner in 2021, who returned to the same spot this year and found the ewe still there.
She said she was amazed that Fiona had ‘made it through all the elements’ and was ‘desperate to connect with us’ when she passed away. Her fur had grown so long that it could barely stand up.
Fiona’s rescue was led by Ayrshire farmer Cammy Wilson, who was moved by photos of the sheep abandoned by the sea.
Mrs Turner, from Brora, Sutherland, said last week she believed the sheep would manage to climb the rocky cliff.
But when she returned to the remote area last month, she was shocked to see Fiona still trapped. After taking photos to raise awareness of the plight, she called for help.
Mr Wilson and his team – Graeme Parker, James Parker, Als Couzens and Ally Williamson – responded and despite the dangerous terrain they were determined to free the sheep.
Fiona has been stuck off the north-east coast of Scotland for the past two years
Two of the rescuers Cammy Wilson (left) and Als Couzens are pictured with Fiona
The group used a winch mounted on a truck parked at the top of the cliff, 200 meters of rope and a feed bag made into a makeshift sling to carry the sheep to safety.
During the operation, two of the men remained at the top to operate the winch, while three others were lowered 250 meters into the steep descent, where they found Fiona in a cave.
They then secured Fiona in a large feed bag made into a makeshift sling and led her on an extremely dangerous climb up the cliff.
When they reached the top, Fiona was placed in a farm pickup truck and taken to safety, apparently in no worse health.
The rescue crew decided to name the sheep after a character from the animated film Shrek who marries a princess named Fiona.
Mr Wilson explained: ‘There was a sheep called Shrek in Australia who lived in caves for years, so this is the Scottish version.
How Fiona ended up on the beach is a mystery, as local farmers do not own sheep of the same breed.
One farmer was able to provide crucial drone footage of the cliffs so the men could plan their rescue.
Fiona also played her part in the rescue. Mr Wilson explained: ‘She was so cold, it was unbelievable.
‘I was amazed at how relaxed this sheep was; no panting or panic. It was almost as if she was thinking, “Get me out of here.” It’s rare for a sheep to behave like this.’
He described the most nerve-wracking part as a nearly vertical 50-foot section where they feared the bag containing Fiona would tear.
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Fiona was first discovered in 2021 by kayaker Jillian Turner, who returned to the site near Balinore this year to find the animal still there, with her fur overgrown.
The rescue crew decided to name the sheep after a character from the animated film Shrek who marries a princess named Fiona
Mr Wilson said: “If we lost the bag we were stuck in one spot. We would have spent most of the day there trying to figure out another plan. Luckily it held up and we helped her get over the worst of it. Then it was a steady climb, while you had to be careful.
‘In retrospect, luck was the most important factor of the day. It was great to come out with no mistakes and see the sheep happy and healthy… because the stress could have killed her. Luckily she was completely relaxed.’
The team had contacted the Scottish SPCA to monitor the rescue and check the sheep’s condition.
Fiona has now been transported to her new home some 430 kilometers south at Dalscone Farm animal park in Dumfries.