Prickles the 'social distancing' sheep
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Shear genius: Lost sheep donates fleece

Woolly idea raises thousands for refugees

After seven years wandering the Tasmanian wilderness, Prickles the sheep turned up alive and well in April in serious need of a haircut. Her owner decided to put the good news towards a good cause.

“Across the dam we saw this great round thing,” says Tasmanian sheep farmer Alice Gray. “We didn’t know it was a sheep, it was extraordinary.”

Prickles went missing after the 2013 bushfires in Dunalley, Tasmania, and over the last seven years grew what Alice calls “a glorious fleece.”

Instead of just cutting the wool, the Gray family decided to turn it into an opportunity to help people less fortunate during the coronavirus pandemic.

“When we found Prickles, we were joking that she was an expert at social distancing,” says Alice, “and that got us talking about people in this world who don’t have the luxury of being able to social distance.”

Alice Gray and Prickles relive the sheep‘s experience and explain why protecting refugees is so important. ©️ Australia for UNHCR

In places like Syria, the Greek islands or the Rohingya camps of Bangladesh, refugees and displaced people live in severely overcrowded settlements with little access to sanitation. Many may have been there for seven years or more, with little chance of making it home.

Our teams on the ground are working tirelessly to help prevent coronavirus outbreaks through improving hygiene and medical care for displaced people, while spreading the word among their communities about how to stay safe, but they need our support because budgets are stretched thin.

Prickles’ story has been covered by media all around the world from the Hobart Mercury to BBC and BuzzFeed, resonating with people around the world who have visited the Gray family’s fundraising page.

“We’re shearing her on 1 May, and everyone has the chance to guess the weight of the fleece and make a donation,” says Alice.

Prickles the 'social distancing' sheep after being rescued
Prickles was discovered in April 2020 after seven years on the lam. ©️ A. Gray

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