A Norwegian Fjord Horse Joins the Family Farm

Posted Date

August 8, 2023


Animal Updates, In The News

There’s a new resident on the Family Farm! Meet Nelson, a male Norwegian Fjord horse, that arrived in mid-July. Nelson came from a private family. He has the notable title of being the first Fjord species to join the Zoo’s Northwestern Mutual Family Farm. Nelson will turn 15 years old this month.

All Zoo animals go through a quarantine period to ensure there are no health concerns for the arriving animal as well as for the entire animal population. The quarantine process usually takes place at the Zoo’s Animal Health Center. However, with domestic large breeds, animal care staff on the Farm prefer to quarantine these larger breeds in the animal’s habitat. Often horses and cows that join the Farm come from social situations and are accustomed to living in groups. Zookeepers want to maintain that environment – having the ability for socialization with the animal, and so that the animal can socialize with other animals.

Nelson is completing his quarantine in the Farm’s Horse Barn, with partial access inside and partial access to the outdoor habitat. Zookeepers comment that he is “very social and he loves people!”

After quarantine (30 days), Nelson will join Sicilian donkey, Giuseppe, as a companion in the habitat. The animals can see each other through wire fencing in the outdoor yard, and they’ve already touched heads! Inside the barn, they’ve touched noses to get to know each other. At first, Giuseppe was curious about Nelson; now he seems less interested, but zookeepers say after quarantine, when Nelson has full access, he and Giuseppe will most likely chase each other around until that becomes less interesting.

Nelson has acclimated well so far, and when he first arrived at the Farm, he rolled on the ground within 30 minutes. It’s a reflection as to how he feels about his new home. A nervous horse wouldn’t have rolled in the yard shortly after arriving.

Welcome, Nelson!


Fast facts:

  • The first Norwegian Fjords (22 of them) were imported to the U.S. in the 1950s.
  • Fjords can be classified as ponies, as well as light draft horses.


They’re a unique breed for several reasons:

  • Fjords are one of the oldest breeds of horse, believed to be domesticated over 4,000 years ago.
  • Most Fjords are the same brown dun color.
  • They have a dorsal stripe that starts at their forelock and runs all the way down their tail. Fjord manes are often cut to show this dorsal stripe.

Be aware of a recent "anniversary" ticket scam. tHE ZOO IS not affiliated with this.