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Just grin and baaaa it! Mysterious 'smiley face' symbol sparks internet debate after appearing on hundreds of sheep across the country
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- Hundreds of sheep up and down the country branded with smiley face
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By James Rush
PUBLISHED: 21:02 EST, 17 January 2013 | UPDATED: 05:00 EST, 18 January 2013
Hundreds of sheep have been painted with a bizarre 'smiley face' symbol in fields across the country.
The strange image has sparked debate on social networking sites after it was first reported on 20 animals in a field in Melton Mowbray, in Leicestershire.
There have since been sightings in a further five fields across the UK, including Perthshire in Scotland, and 500 miles south in Exeter, Devon.
Not impressed: Hundreds of sheep have been branded with the mysterious 'smiley face' symbol at sites up and down the country, including these unimpressed-looking sheep in Exeter
Early sighting: These sheep in Melton Mowbray were among the first to be spotted. There are now more than 100 sheep believed to have been marked in this way
Smile for the camera: The strange markings have been spotted on sheep hundreds of miles apart, including in Devon and Scotland
And people have taken to Twitter to share pictures of the unexplained phenomenon, using the hashtag #creepysheep.
Many are questioning how the eerie symbol came to be etched on the animals - with some talking of 'supernatural powers' and 'UFOs'.
Even farmers appear baffled, with one saying: 'It is like crop circles - but on sheep.'
The symbol appears to have been painted on both sides of randomly chosen animals at each of the affected farms.
It looks like a smiley face, with two spiralling eyes and a long, connecting, mouth.
Unexplained: These branded sheep in Middlesborough appear a little startled as they have their picture taken
Branded: The symbol appears to have been painted on both sides of randomly chosen animals at each of the affected farms
More than 100 sheep are thought to have been targeted in total.
Farmer Ros Turner, whose sheep have been 'tagged' in Melton Mowbray, said: 'Passing motorists and walkers have had to double take.
'They can't quite believe what they are seeing and I've had a few people stop me and ask what is going on.
Further sightings: These sheep on a farm in Camarthenshire, Wales, have also fallen victim to the unexplained phenomenon
'They seem to think it is some supernatural power or the work of passing aliens or UFOs.
'It's like crop circles - but on sheep.
'The animals do not seem to have been affected in any way. They are still grazing and going about their day to day lives in the usual way.'
One Twitter user, @liamgeoghegan, said: 'What's going on with these weird looking sheep? What's the smiley face thing all about? #CreepySheep.'
Melton Mowbray farmer Ros Turner, whose sheep, pictured, have been branded said: 'It's like crop circles - but on sheep.'
And another, @Ben-Mulock, said: 'Ha! Some sheep in The Borough look like they've been tattooed! Maybe it's for some kind of show?'
Ellie Stokeld, another affected farmer, from Great Ayton, near Middlesborough, said: 'The symbol looks bizarre but it makes a nice change to the sheeps' usual plain white coats.'
'You can't help but laugh when you see the sheep in the field with the smiley faces on the side.'
A tweet from @carlasilverman said: 'Just walked past these random sheep! What on earth is going on here?'
And @champychampy said: 'Someone's given these sheep a makeover.'
Bizarre: Many are questioning how the eerie symbol came to be etched on the animals - with some talking of 'supernatural powers' and 'UFOs'