(LONDON) — Britain’s so-called “loneliest sheep” has been rescued after being stranded for at least two years at the foot of a remote cliff in the Scottish highlands.
Fiona the sheep was rescued on Saturday in a “major operation” by a group of Scottish farmers, with oversight of the Scottish SPCA, bringing an end to the ewe’s monthslong isolation.
Fiona was first spotted in 2021 at the foot of a Cromarty Firth cliff by a nearby resident. The sheep had still been trapped at the base of cliff until last weekend — two years later — when the group rescued her.
“This morning the Scottish SPCA were in attendance at the hillside after they were made aware that a group of individuals with climbing expertise were attempting to rescue the stranded sheep by descending down to where she was trapped,” wrote the Scottish SPCA in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“The team brought the ewe up successfully and out Inspector examined her,” SPCA officials said. “Thankfully the sheep is in good bodily condition.”
Cameron Wilson, a Scottish farmer who led the rescue mission, told ABC News the team named her Fiona, inspired by Shrek the Sheep, a sheep from New Zealand who gained international fame in 2004 after being in a similar situation.
“She will not be taken to a specialist home within Scotland to rest and recover,” announced the Scottish SPCA. “We are very grateful to the team who rescued the sheep, although we must stress that they were only able to do so as they were experienced climbers.”
Jillian Turner was canoeing near the cliff when she spotted the sheep in 2021.
“About half a mile before turning into the Cromarty Firth we spotted a sheep on a shingle beach at the bottom of some steep, rocky coastline,” recounted Turner, speaking to The Northern Times.
Turner did not think much of it, believing Fiona would manage to find her way back up the rocky cliff. But she was “horrified” when she took the same journey with her canoe club two years later and found Fiona still there.
“The poor ewe has been on her own for at least two years — for a flock animal that has to be torture, and she seemed desperate to make contact with us on the two occasions we’ve gone past her,” Turner said.
It remains unclear how Fiona ended up at the foot of the steep cliff.
After seeing a small article in a local paper about the plight of the sheep, Wilson, the farmer who led the rescue mission, assembled small rescue team.
“We’ve come up here with some heavy equipment and we’ve got the sheep up an incredible slope,” said Wilson.
“She’s in incredible condition. She is about a condition score of about 4.5, she is over-fat — it was some job lifting her up that slope,” said Wilson.
“Lonely no more … she has lots of friends here.”
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