A sheep in Herefordshire has become a media sensation thanks to its striking markings.
The lamb, born on Paul Phillips’ farm, has a distinctive black-and-white face – and was immediately nicknamed “The Phantom” after the Phantom of the Opera.
His fame began when his picture was included in a local newspaper with an appeal from a reader to identify the “mystery breed”.
A follow-up interview led to national coverage, which soon went viral on the internet.
“There was a degree of surprise, to put it politely, when the lamb appeared,” says Paul, who founded the Kimbolton flock in 2008.
See also: Five-legged lamb born on farm in Wales
The newborn weighed between 6kg and 7kg and certainly has an impressive pedigree – his mother was sired by Deveronvale Perfection, a ram that once changed hands for a record-breaking £231,000.
“When he was born, he was in the shadows. Then up he got and the rest is history,” Paul adds.
Ironically, it is not the first time an unusual-looking animal has been born on the farm – last year there was one that was the mirror opposite.
“It had black on the other side of its face. It was like yin and yang.
“His personality matches his looks. He has one hell of a personality and one hell of a carcass – but he is certainly different,” says Paul.
“There’s actually quite a positive life message in all this. It shows people that it’s OK to be different.”
Meanwhile, the animal’s future remains undecided. “He’d make a good butcher’s lamb or he might be sold for breeding – or he could even have a career as a celebrity.
“I could see him, for example, making appearances at weddings.”