Probably one of the most famous animals in the Bible is the donkey who spoke to the prophet Balaam and argued with him in the book of Numbers. An angel stood in the donkey’s way and the donkey refused to go further; Balaam struck the donkey several times until finally the donkey refused to go any further and asked Balaam why he was abusing him since he had been with him for a long time. Balaam did not appear to be astonished that his animal was arguing with him; rather he responded and told him he needed him to move forward. Finally Balaam saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way.
Another reference to animals in the Bible is made when Samson used the jawbone of a donkey to kill 1,000 men. Actually donkeys are prevalent throughout the scriptures. Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey that was found for him. There are other animals mentioned in the scriptures too - camels, oxen, doves, calves, horses etc. In fact, the Old Testament separated them into clean and unclean, what the Hebrew population could partake of and what it could not.
We know prior to the great flood, Noah paired the animals and hauled them when the rains came into the ark only to release them onto the land afterward. We know that the animals were part of the spoils of war and were divided among the captors when they won and captured the lands and the peoples. We know that King Solomon prized his great stables of many horses.
But the most important role animals played in the Bible was that of sacrifice. Animal sacrifice played a great deal of importance in the Hebrew faith, particularly in the Old Testament as it was a shadow of the sacrifice that Jesus would make at his coming. Without that blood sacrfice the Jews believed there was no atonement for sin. Lambs in particular were a shadow and a type of the coming Messiah that would save the Jews. And the Christian world believes he did come and shed his blood on Calvary and was the “lamb” that was slain. The lamb in particular is a shadow and a type of the blessed lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. If animals were not important to God they would not have been mentioned in the Bible. That is why when people ask me if there will be animals in heaven, I answer with a resounding YES!