The History of the Miniature Donkey
Miniature donkeys originated in the Mediterranean area of Northern Africa in ancient times and more recently from the Islands of Sicily and Sardinia off the west coast of Italy. Over time the distinctions between the two island populations blurred and they are now considered one breed properly called Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys. They are simply referred to as Miniature Donkeys in North America.
Purebred Miniature Donkeys in the Mediterranean area are rapidly disappearing, as the small donkeys are being mixed with larger breeds. For this reason, the Donkeys in North America have global genetic value. Fortunately, numbers in the U.S. and Canada are strong and are increasing since the first Donkeys arrived in the early 1900's. Approximately 2,179 animals were registered in 1995 and the current population is estimated between 17,000 and 20,000 in the U.S.
The Miniature Donkey is a compact, well-proportioned animal with a sweet, sociable disposition. At maturity (3 years), it is able to pull a cart or carry a pack as it did in its native Sicily and Sardinia.