Step aside Phar Lap, another beloved world famous Kiwi animal is about to join the hallowed turf at Te Papa.
Shrek the sheep will be unveiled at the national museum this year, Queenstown-based taxidermist David Jacobs has confirmed.
Shrek was put to sleep, aged 17, in 2011 after living twice as long as the average sheep.
He was sent to Jacobs' studio after "lying in state" for a week to allow the Central Otago community of Tarras to say their goodbyes.
On arrival at the studio, he was put in a walk-in freezer and then taken out to record data for recreating his body and to make a "death mask" of his face to capture his expression. But there were concerns about the condition of Shrek's hide, as it had deteriorated while he had been lying in state, Jacobs said.
Making a mannequin of the body had to be delayed until he knew whether the skin could be preserved.
Shrek was transported to Turner's Tannery in Canterbury for a specialist removal of hide and tanning, and has recently been returned.
Jacobs has started the mounting process which involves sculpting the mannequin.
"He's more difficult than other animals I've done because Shrek's a one-off piece, limited edition," Jacobs said. "There's nothing to model him on."
He said the most care would have to be taken to capture Shrek's facial expression, given his age and character. "He's the No 1 most photographed sheep in all of New Zealand so that shouldn't be too much of a problem."
Shrek made headlines around the world in 2004 after he was found living in a cave at Bendigo Station in Central Otago. He had a 22kg fleece, compared with the average of 4.5 for a merino, after avoiding mustering for six years.
He became an overnight celebrity. Shrek flew in planes, met Prime Minister Helen Clark and was shorn on live television on an iceberg floating off the coast of Dunedin.
Shrek's owner, John Perriam, of Bendigo Station in Central Otago, said many people followed Shrek's journey and some felt that he should stay in the high country.
"But he will give a lot more people, especially children, a huge amount of enjoyment if he's in the national museum."
Te Papa senior curator Claire Renault said the museum was anticipating Shrek's arrival.
They had not yet decided whether the well-known merino would sit next to the skeleton of famed New Zealand-bred racehorse Phar Lap, Renault said.
- Sunday Star Times