Little Donkey, Big Star

One of the “miniest” mini donkeys ever is an internet celeb.

By Owen Roberts | Photos By Jessica Deeks

From a hobby farm near Apsley, Ontario, comes one of the world’s latest celebrity animals: an adorable, extra-small miniature donkey named Tiny Tim. At 110 pounds and just 26 inches tall, he’s only about two-thirds the size of most mini donkeys (yes, an actual breed). 

But on the internet, Tiny Tim is, well, kicking ass big time, giving viral veterans like Grumpy Cat a run for their money. In just 10 months, his “Tiny Tim the Mini Donkey” page amassed nearly a quarter-million followers on Facebook. Just one of his many YouTube videos, “Tiny Tim Goes To The Vet,” racked up nearly 400,000 views by late 2018. The views bring in some income, as do online sales of Tiny Tim swag, such as T-shirts and tote bags. Once they clear expenses, Tiny’s owners plan to donate 5% of the proceeds to charities, like Five Counties Children’s Centre in nearby Peterborough.

Tiny needed a lot of TLC himself in his early days at his home, Three Maples Farm. He was only 10 pounds at birth—the size of a cat—when owners Jody and Ted Topping found him in their barn, abandoned by his mother, Molly. The Toppings intervened to save his life. For five weeks, they kept him in a playpen next to their bed, syringe-feeding him around the clock until he gained strength. Size, however, eluded him. A liver enzyme problem meant Tiny Tim would always be tiny.

But being small with a big personality had big appeal. Early videos show off Tiny’s domestic-pet-like traits: snuggling, turning circles for treats and delighting in car rides. On one outing to a local Lions Club parade, the club made him an honorary member, catching the imagination of a reporter. The resulting story went viral.

Today, Tiny Tim keeps piling up views and likes, much to the delight of Jody, who thinks donkeys get a bad rap. “Donkeys are often regarded as little more than nameless barnyard guardians,” she says, “but they’re capable of so much more. They all have such personalities. They just deserve a chance.” 

And, like Tiny Tim, maybe a Facebook page of their own.