BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Just in time for the mini-break from school next week, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport has a little idea that’s sure to be a big hit with the kids.
New to the zoo family is a pair of miniature horses, diminutive charmers named Nutmeg and Caramel. Guests will find them in an exhibit at the New England Farmyard.
“This is a great week to announce our miniature horses are here because it’s hard not to fall in love with them,” said Gregg Dancho, director, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. “They look like regular horses, but they’re much, much smaller. Small children will find they’re at eye level with them.”
Joining the zoo from a farm in Vermont, Nutmeg is a male, and Caramel is a female. They’re shorter than the smallest pony: they both stand about 9 “hands,” or 36 inches tall. Full-grown miniature horses weigh 150 to 250 pounds.
Although small, they are quite strong. Miniature horses are proportionally the same as a horse, except that their eyes are larger. With some of the largest eyes found in mammals, they have 350-degree vision, with a tiny blind spot. Very few animals have this range of vision.
The American Miniature Horse Association, which keeps track of breeding and most of the minis in the world, began in 1978. But minis have a long history. Small horses and ponies were first used to work in coalmines in England and Holland. Brought to the U.S. in the nineteenth century, they were used in coalmines as recently as 1950. The tunnels in mines are small, and full-size horses were too big to enter them. Miniature horses have also been kept as pets of European royalty.
After visiting Nutmeg and Caramel, be sure to stop by to see Rochan, the Zoo’s adorable Red Panda, the playful pair of otters, and the blooming flowers in the greenhouse.
The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and offers reduced entrance fees every day until March 1. Weekday prices are $10 per person, weekends and holidays are $12 for adults and children, $10 for seniors and handicapped.
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.org .