Two Years After Falling off a Scottish Cliff, Fiona the Sheep Was Rescued — but She Isn't Quite Free


Nov. 7 2023, Published 2:59 p.m. ET

Fiona the sheep
Source: Animal Rising

The Gist:

  • Fiona the sheep had been alone at the foot of a Scottish cliff for at least two years.
  • Fiona was rescued by a group of farmers.
  • Animal activists don’t want Fiona to be exploited for entertainment.
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Fiona the sheep, once called the “world’s loneliest sheep,” is lonely no more. She was finally rescued from the bottom of a cliff in Scotland, where she has lived alone for at least the past two years.

However, the controversy surrounding Fiona and her new home may be enough for her to long for the days she spent by herself. Here are the details about Fiona, her rescue, and the debate about where she should live.

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Fiona the sheep has been rescued after two years.

Fiona started to get public attention in October 2023, when a kayaker recognized her as the same sheep she had seen at the foot of a Scottish cliff two years earlier. Kayaker Jillian Turner told The Northern Times that she first saw Fiona at the cliff bottom in 2021.

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"She saw us coming and was calling to us along the length of the beach following our progress until she could go no further. She finally turned back, looking defeated," Turner told The Northern Times about that 2021 encounter.

On an October 2023 kayaking trip in the same area, Turner knew she was seeing the same sheep, although she had grown bigger and her wool was overgrown to the point it was dragging to the ground, The Northern Times reported.

After the story of Fiona the stranded sheep started to get attention on social media and in the news, a group of Scottish farmers banded together to save her. On Nov. 4, 2023, the farmers were able to rescue Fiona by hoisting her up the cliff, The New York Times reported. She was in good condition, but just a little overweight, per The Guardian.

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Fiona is now living on a farm, but animal activists aren't satisfied.

After Fiona was rescued from solitary confinement, she was given a new home at the Dalscone Farm in Dumfries, Scotland. But animal activists aren’t happy about her new living arrangements, The New York Times reported.

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Members of Animal Rising, an animal rights and environmental protection group, are concerned that Fiona will become a public spectacle at Dalscone Farm and be exploited for human entertainment. On its Facebook page, Dalscone Farm describes itself as “a 5-star visitor attraction,” and the farm regularly posts pictures and videos of its animals, including Fiona. The farm also shares livestreams of some of its animals online.

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“I just want to know that it is guaranteed that she is not going to be exploited in any way,” Rose Patterson, of Animal Rising, told The New York Times. “The best place for her is to go somewhere where she is free from much interference.”

Members of Animal Rising have proposed bringing Fiona to Tribe Animal Sanctuary in Scotland, where she would be given more space and be free of any exploitation.

Since being transferred to Dalscone Farm, Fiona has lost about 20 pounds after farmers sheared her wool off. Sheep farmer Cammy Wilson, who was part of Fiona’s rescue team, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland that he’s confident that Dalscone Farm will take good care of Fiona. And Ben Best of Dalscone Farm told The New York Times that the newly famous sheep won't be used for entertainment there.

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Five people holding signs demanding to free Fiona
Source: Animal Rising

Animal Rising volunteers are protesting Dalscone Farm.

But despite those claims from Dalscone Farm, animal activists are still protesting Fiona living on the farm, as reported by The Guardian.

Animal Rising's Jamie Moyes stated: "We reached an agreement with the landowner for her to be rescued and taken to a safe and peaceful sanctuary, but he went behind our back to make a spectacle of her instead."

Added Robert Gordon of Animal Rising in a statement to The Guardian: “All we want is for her to be in a sanctuary, not to be made a spectacle of in a petting zoo.”

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