Animal Class: Miniature Donkey

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[swoosh] ANNOUNCER: Here is an
AMI This Week Shortcut with Alex Smyth. [music playing] VOICEOVER: Welcome
to Animal Class. ALEX SMYTH: I heard that
miniature donkeys, surprisingly, make good pets. Is that true? I’m here at the Toronto
Zoo to find out. I’m joined by zookeeper,
Brendan Bonner. Brendan, how are you doing? BRENDAN BONNER: I’m
doing great, how are you? ALEX SMYTH: I’m doing great. And you brought
someone with you. Can you introduce him for me? BRENDAN BONNER: Yeah. So this here is Sterling. He’s our miniature donkey that
we had here at the Toronto Zoo. He’s 19 years old. He’s been with us at the zoo
now for about 14, 15 years. ALEX SMYTH: Sterling stands
about three and 1/2 feet tall, about half that of
a regular donkey. Like the rest of
his horse family, he has a long nose and mouth. But unlike a horse, his
mane is upright and bristly. And his ears,
almost a foot long. BRENDAN BONNER: Hearing is
very important for donkeys. Being so small, you’ve
got to be able to see what’s coming up on you
and things of that nature. So he can rotate those
ears a full 180 degrees. So they can point
backwards, they can point forwards,
all kinds of ways. They’re kind of like a radar
dish when he’s on edge. ALEX SMYTH: Sterling has a short
coat of brown and white fur that gets thicker and
shaggier in winter. He also weighs about 100 pounds. This donkey eats like a king. BRENDAN BONNER: Here at
the zoo he gets a mixture. He gets a lot of hay, kind of
get that natural roughage in his diet. He also gets apples, pears,
carrots, some sweet potato, and then occasionally a
specialized cube that we have here, just a herbivore cube. It’s supercharged with vitamins,
minerals, and nutrients. But it also packs on the weight. So we can’t give it
to him too, too often. We got to keep
Sterling miniature. ALEX SMYTH: How long can
a miniature donkey live? BRENDAN BONNER: Oh you can get
them into their 30s, easily. ALEX SMYTH: Oh wow. BRENDAN BONNER: Typically. So if you kind of think, it’s
the same lifespan of a horse. ALEX SMYTH: Is there any
validity to the notion that donkeys make great pets? BRENDAN BONNER: Well, I
mean they are great animals. They are raised as
companion animals sometimes. But you do have to
have a lot of land, you’ve got to have the
resources to take care of them. ALEX SMYTH: But you don’t
want them in a small Toronto apartment with you? It’s not going to
work that well. BRENDAN BONNER: That might
violate the condo board rules, yeah. ALEX SMYTH: I’ve
often heard donkeys can be stubborn animals. Is it true and does it relate
to the miniature donkey as well? BRENDAN BONNER: Sterling
embodies that statement, I would say. He’s one of the most stubborn
animals I’ve ever worked with. He’s got a very
good personality, there’s a strong personality
to Sterling here. He’s very particular
about who he likes. I’m not necessarily his
favourite person in the world mostly because most of the
vets that we’ve ever had here at the zoo– [donkey snorting] That’s right. Most of the vets we’ve had
here at the zoo have been men, so Sterling tends to
not be super keen on men that he works with
because he associates us with the medical procedures. ALEX SMYTH: Well,
and I’m trying not to take the spit I just got
covered in too personally, I understand. Would I be able to pet Sterling? BRENDAN BONNER: Yeah, we
can sure give it a shot. If you want to come around
and give a nice little pat on his shoulder here. ALEX SMYTH: OK. I’m not sure I want Sterling
to spit on me again. And I’d also like to
avoid a nip of the hand. Just come by behind you then? BRENDAN BONNER: Yeah,
we’ll do a trade there. ALEX SMYTH: OK. So just a nice hardy
pat for Sterling. There you go, bud. Yeah, the fur is very soft. I’m actually quite
surprised how soft it is. How are you doing, Sterling? You having fun? Well, thank you
very much, Brendan. And thank you, Sterling,
for teaching me a bit about the
miniature donkey. And if you at home want to
find out more information, visit


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