- INSIGHT-Legal troubles, market realities threaten Uber's global push
- Self-critical Pumas seeking perfection
- Russian volunteers likely to fight in Syria, says senior lawmaker
- The Latest: EU in hiring push for border guards
- Polish PM candidate backs closer ties with neighbours on refugee crisis
- Church can't be "museum of memories", pope tells synod
- William Campbell, Satoshi Omura and Youyou Tu win Nobel medicine prize
- UN refugee chief urges West, Muslim world to ally on crises
- White-gloved butlers a new must-have for China’s super-rich
- Palestinian teenager killed as violence between Israel and Palestinians spikes
Just grin and baaaa it! Mysterious 'smiley face' symbol sparks internet debate after appearing on hundreds of sheep across the country
More from UK
- Samantha Cameron left furious over 'untrue smear against her marriage' to husband David in Lord Ashcroft's bombshell biography of the PM
- Fuchsia Seraphine Dress Worn by Kate Only Costs $79
- Kenny Sansom Admits He's a Homeless Alcoholic Who Sleeps on a Park Bench
- Mothers' Groups Hail Kate's Decision Not to Hide Her Post-Baby Bump
- Body of missing 2-year-old found by police a day after he wandered off while playing with his brother
- Hundreds of sheep up and down the country branded with smiley face
- Faces seen in areas including Leicestershire, Devon and Perthshire
- One farmer said phenomenon was 'like crop circles-but on sheep'
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'