World's loneliest sheep rescue was 'STOLEN' from animal rights group who were 'building friendship' with forgotten ewe | The Sun
A ROW has broken out over the rescue of the world's loneliest sheep rescue with an animal rights group claiming the mission was "stolen" from them.
Campaigners insist they had been "building a friendship" with the ewe stranded for two years on a rocky shoreline in north-eastern Scotland.
Animal Rising, who planned to disrupt the Grand National earlier this year, are unhappy about another team swooping in yesterday to retrieve the sheep.
The thwarted activists say they had descended a steep cliff in their own attempts to reach the animal – only for the rival volunteers to get there first.
Now Animal Rising have launched a petition aimed at preventing the ewe – which its rescuers have named Fiona – from going to what they call a "petting zoo" 270 miles away in Dumfries.
Five local farmers were the ones who brought the sheep to safety, they revealed on Saturday.
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Animal welfare experts at the Scottish SPCA had warned any attempts to intervene would be "incredibly complex".
But Fiona was retrieved using what the farmers called "heavy equipment" help manouevre along an "incredible slope".
They said she was checked over by animal experts and found to be in "incredible fettle", ahead of plans to take her to Dalscone Farm animal park.
But Animal Rising said had been preparing for five days to reach the sheep and take her to Scotland's Tribe Animal Sanctuary near Glasgow.
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They said their team had "spent the past five days in a row getting closer to Fiona ahead of a rescue planned for this Sunday,".
In a statement, they complained: "A different group have orchestrated a plan to take her to a 'well-known' petting zoo where she is likely to be mobbed daily in a very distressing environment."
Animal Rising supporter Jamie Moyes said: "We are of course pleased Fiona is no longer stranded.
"But it is completely unacceptable that she would be taken to a ‘petting zoo’ when she has already suffered for the last two years.
"Petting zoos can be stressful for any animal, but especially for one that has lived alone for the last two years and will likely now be mobbed by daily visitors owing to her celebrity status.
"The right thing to do would be to allow her to live out the rest of her life safely at Tribe Animal Sanctuary, who already agreed to home her."
The successful rescue mission was organised by Cammy Wilson, a sheep shearer from Ayrshire and presenter of BBC show Landward.
Rescuers used a winch mounted on a truck parked at the top of the cliff, 200m of rope and a feed bag fashioned into a makeshift sling.
Two of the men stayed at the top to operate the winch while three others were lowered 250m down the steep descent where they found Fiona in a cave and guided her up the rock face.
Speaking in a video posted on Facebook, Mr Wilson said: "She's in incredible condition.
"She is going to a very special place that a lot of you know very well, where you'll be able to see her virtually every day."
Mr Wilson later told BBC News he anticipated some people would criticise his rescue mission as foolhardy, and he accepted it was risky.
He added: "The only difference between us being heroes and idiots is a slip of the foot."
He was joined in the rescue by fellow farmers Graeme Parker, Als Couzens, Ally Williamson and James Parker.
The Scottish SPCA said: "Thankfully the sheep is in good bodily condition, aside from needing to be sheared.
"She will now be taken to a specialist home within Scotland to rest and recover."
Jill Turner, from Brora in Sutherland, highlighted Fiona's plight after first spotting her when kayaking in 2021.
She was shocked to discover she was still there two years later, and pleaded for someone to rescue her.
She now feels "very emotional" about the rescue, adding: "It's been a very stressful time.
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"I gave such a shriek over the news she had been rescued that it gave my husband a fright."
More details about the mission are due to told on an edition of Landward on BBC Scotland on November 16.
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