Skip to main content

Shetland pony

Equus caballus caballus shetland

This miniature horse is an ancient breed seen for over 2,000 years. The Shetland pony originates from the island of Shetland, which is found off the coast of Scotland.

The Shetland Islands have a very harsh, unforgiving climate, which is why the Shetland pony has developed a thick coat.

Belfast Zoo’s farmyard is home to four Shetland ponies.

Animal class


Conservation status

The Fell Pony and the Exmoor Pony are both endangered, but the RBST has not as yet given the Shetland pony endangered status.




In 1822 it was estimated there were 10,000 ponies on the Shetland Islands but, by the 1890s, this figure was down to only 4000. Today on the islands, there are approximately 1,000 ponies.


Herbivore. It grazes on grass in the wild. When the ground is covered in snow, it will paw at it to get at the grass and moss. It may also climb down to the beach to feed on seaweed.