Immortalising Shrek proves high-profile job

Queenstown taxidermist David Jacobs holds the skull of Shrek the sheep yesterday before the start of mounting the famous sheep. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Queenstown taxidermist David Jacobs holds the skull of Shrek the sheep yesterday before the start of mounting the famous sheep. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Since the death of celebrity sheep Shrek in June last year, Queenstown taxidermist David Jacobs has been swamped with inquiries as to the status of his most high-profile "client".

"Not since Phar Lap has there been so much interest in a piece of taxidermy," Mr Jacobs said.

"You can be in the pub and people can say 'How's Shrek going?' Everyone wants to know."

Mr Jacobs yesterday updated the Otago Daily Times on what had happened to Shrek's remains since his death.

After "lying in state" for a week to allow the Tarras community to say their final farewells, Shrek arrived at Mr Jacobs' studio last year wrapped in his much-photographed red and blue Icebreaker jacket and surrounded by flowers and farewell cards from Tarras School pupils.

The delay in getting him to the taxidermist and the insulation properties of merino wool posed an immediate problem.

"The decomposition was quite advanced and although he had recently been shorn, the risk of him losing the remainder of his wool and hence rendering him un-mountable was very high."

Shrek's jacket was removed and he was immediately frozen in a large walk-in freezer. He was later taken out to measure and record data for recreating his body and a "death mask" was made of his face to capture his expression. The entire process was recorded by a local documentary film-maker.

Shrek was then transported to Turner's Tannery in Leeston, Canterbury, for specialist removal of the hide and tanning.

Shrek's condition meant Mr Jacobs had to delay making a mannequin of the merino's body until he got confirmation the hide could be preserved.

The tanning process was successful, and once Mr Jacobs receives the hide, he will start the final mounting process, which involves sculpting the mannequin.

"Essentially, this is Shrek without his clothes on, on to which the tanned skin will be sewn."

The carcass would also be returned to him to make some final notes before delivery to the AgResearch station at Invermay for cremation.

Josie Spillane, fundraising and business development director for Shrek's charity, Cure Kids, said Shrek's final resting place was still to be decided but one option under consideration was scattering his remains over Mt Cook.

A spokesperson from Te Papa confirmed yesterday the mounted version of Shrek would be displayed at the national museum, which faced stiff competition in acquiring the sheep.