As months get colder throughout winter one particular species here at the zoo are very well adapted to cope with any weather.
Our four Shetland ponies Fleur, Jasmine, Duchess and Echo are very accustomed to the cold. The Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland where this species come from can have extremely harsh winds, rain and freezing temperatures.
Shetland ponies have a lovely long mane which helps to protect their eyes, head and neck. They have a very thick coat that can come in a variety of colours. The coat changes depending on the seasons with a short summer coat which should carry a beautiful silky sheen. In winter they have a double coat with guard hairs to shed the rain.
Jasmine, has a cream coloured coat, Fleur has a brown one, Duchess has a grey one and our male pony, Echo, has a white coat.
They are very intelligent and inquisitive animals, every individual has their own personality and temperament. Although miniature Shetland ponies may be the smallest of all the horse species, they are actually pound for pound the strongest of all.
For at least 4,000 years in almost complete isolation, this amazing small species of pony have roamed the exposed hills and moors of Shetland. This tough environment has allowed them to evolve into a unique and hardy species.
Here at Flamingo Land they love playing with each other and can regularly be seen rolling around on the grass. Their diet mainly consists of grass, hay and specialised pony pellets and they go for regular walks throughout the week.
It is a fun experience for both keeper and pony and even when the ponies pass the Grant’s zebras they will communicate with one another, recognising that they are of a similar species.
With winter now in full swing the zoo remains open and the Shetland ponies will probably be the first animal that you see when you visit. They share a paddock with the zoo’s two noisy donkeys and are part of the famous Muddy Duck Farm.