The plight of a ewe stranded 100ft up a cliff for a month came to a heartbreaking end in the sights of a rifle.
In shocking scenes, the helpless animal was shot dead after animal charity the RSPCA advised a rescue would be too dangerous.
The decision outraged animal lovers who fondly named the sheep Aretha after Rescue Me soul singer Aretha Franklin.
They said she had been living happily on the ledge and could have been left to roam her tiny patch.
Cruise ship worker Juanita Degenaar, who first spotted the ewe's plight, said: "I am shocked and appalled. She was happy eating and drinking away.
"They should have just left her alone, she was perfectly happy, like the queen of her kingdom."
Animal rescue charity ARC added: "I would have thought the animal would only weigh as much as a small person. They lift people off crevices so why not the sheep?"
The RSPCA feared tranquillizing the sheep with a dart would scare it, causing it to bolt and fall to its death. It was thought this would endanger the team trying to pluck her from the cliff.
Inspectors said the final decision to shoot Aretha was made by the owner and an independent marksman carried out the job.
Justin Le Masurier said: "The RSPCA regularly rescues animals trapped on cliffs but unfortunately, as in this case, there isn't always a happy ending.
"The sheep was humanely destroyed. The procedure was carried out quickly and cleanly and the sheep would not have suffered.
"This is a very sad situation and we understand public concern. We wish to assure people this difficult decision was taken in the very best interests of the animal."
The dead sheep plunged into the water and was collected by workers in waders. It was brought ashore at Whitby Harbour, North Yorks, and returned to the farmer on Monday.
It is thought Aretha had stumbled off the edge of the cliff where she was grazing with other sheep and survived by landing on the ledge.
Animal centre worker Juanita Wilson, 62, hit out: "I'm appalled they killed her. I've no faith in the RSPCA - they let the animal down.
"A mountain rescue team could have harnessed the sheep, they only had to ask the right person. That sheep was shot because it was easier than trying to get it down."
And angry Mirror reader, Charles Attard, 54, a maintenance engineer from Poole, Dorset, said: "I would have paid to save the sheep and have her winched to safety."