Miniature donkey

At the Detroit Zoo
Female Knick-Knack and male Giovanni both were born in 1994. Knick-Knack, who arrived in 1994 from New York's Rosamond Gifford Zoo, is described as shy but very affectionate. Giovanni, who arrived roughly a year later from a farm in St. Clair, Mich., is best described as interactive and doesn't like to be ignored. The miniature donkeys can be found in the Barnyard with the belted Galloway steer, domestic yak, Scottish Highland steer, Thoroughbred horses, pigs and other barnyard animals.

The miniature donkey resembles a horse and is characterized by its large head, long ears and cow-like tail. It can be black, white and all shades of brown and gray, but the most common color is a mousy-gray called “gray dun”. It can be spotted, speckled or striped and its hair can be straight, curly, short and wiry or long and wooly. A solid-color donkey has a dark dorsal stripe from mane to tail and a dark stripe across its shoulders. It has an erect mane and lacks the forelock of a horse.

Scientific name: Equus asinus 
Continent: Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia
Habitat: Warm, dry, desert climate
Size: 30-40 inches tall at the withers (highest part of the back at the base of the neck)
Weight: 200-400 pounds
Diet: Grasses and other vegetation
Reproduction: Gestation 11.5 to 13 months; single offspring
Lifespan: 25-40 years



The miniature donkey is observant and cautious. It will refuse to do anything that seems dangerous to it. This behavior has earned the donkey its reputation for being stubborn, but actually, a domestic donkey is very obedient and will not refuse any reasonable request.


When a donkey is startled by something, it usually will not run blindly in fear. Its natural instinct is to freeze or run a few steps and then look to see what frightened it. This is unlike the behavior of horses, which tend to panic and "bolt" when frightened.