Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let Us Now Praise Famous Animals; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images Our Columnist Looks at Celebrated Beasts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let Us Now Praise Famous Animals; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images Our Columnist Looks at Celebrated Beasts

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Saatchi the naked eye

THE wonderful book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was published in 1941 by James Agee, collaborating with photographer Walker Evans. It poignantly illustrated the lives of sharecropper families mired in desperate poverty and their meagre existence in America's "Dustbowl" prairies.

Surely Christmas is the perfect time for a new book entitled Let Us Now Praise Famous Animals, if you are looking to write a sure-fire bestseller? You could kick off with Nelly, seen here neatly dribbling past her markers and drilling a powerful strike into the net -- she was instantly signed by a top German team.

Shrek was a Merino castrated male sheep; he rebelliously ran away from his flock in Tarras, New Zealand, and staked out as a recluse for six years, living in caves in the mountains. He survived winters on the barest sustenance but somehow thrived.

When he was found his fleece had reached a remarkable bulk, nearly tripling his size and covering most of his face apart from little gaps for his eyes and mouth. It took 20 minutes to shear using heavy-gauge electric clippers, the wool weighing in at 27kg.

The average Merino has an annual fleece weight of 4.5kg but Shrek's coat was more than ample to produce 20 men's suits. In a country where sheep outnumber people 10 to one, Shrek became a national hero when his fleece was auctioned for children's medical charities, raising 150,000 NZ dollars.

All this limelight clearly inspired Chris, another Merino, to go rogue for a few years, recently returning from the wild to break Shrek's record, his fleece having grown to a full 40kg.

Sergeant Stubby was a stray pitbull mongrel puppy when he was taken in by an army private, training for combat in 1917. Named for his short tail, Stubby became the mascot of the 103nd Infantry and took part in all activities: learning drills, bugle calls and a modified doggy salute, bringing his paw up to his brow after he saw his new owner's fellow recruits doing it. …

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