Creatures of Note: Songs with Animal Names

Note—Top image: New Guinea singing dog

Given their appearances, temperaments, and amazing characteristics, it’s no wonder that the inhabitants of the Animal Kingdom have struck a chord with songwriters for ages. Artists ranging from America to Led Zeppelin have sung the praises (or listed the pitfalls) of creatures with fur, feathers, fins, scales, and shells, and some that defy categorization. Here’s just a smattering of wild things that made it to the airwaves.

Wolves are just one of many canines immortalized in song.


Canine Compositions
They’re in windows for a price, are named “Boo,” and are both black and atomic: dogs are everywhere, and they were even let out by the Baja Men. “Puppy Love,” “Hey Bulldog,” “Dog and Butterfly,” “Bird Dog,” and “Hound Dog,” are just a few of the tunes penned around man’s (and woman’s) best friend. Their wild brethren are covered by “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Werewolves of London,” “Foxy Lady,” and “Fox on the Run.”

Eye of the (Sumatran) Tiger, indeed!

Feline Fine
What could Janet Jackson, Ted Nugent, Mumford & Sons, and Al Stewart possibly have in common? The fact that cats—large and small—inspired “Black Cat,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Little Lion Man,” and “Year of the Cat,” respectively. Other tunes in this “cat”alog include “What’s New Pussycat?,” “Gold Lion,” “Cat People (Putting Out Fire),” “Eye of the Tiger,” “Cat’s in the Cradle,” “Love Cats,” ”Alley Cat,” “Honky Cat,” “Cool for Cats,” “Neon Tiger,” “Nashville Cats,” “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” and “Hello Kitty Kat.” The perennial favorite in this “cat”egory—“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”—deserves both a mention and a correction: lions DO NOT live in the jungle. But perhaps “On the savanna, the mighty savanna” just doesn’t have the same groove.

Fly Like An (Harpy) Eagle

Winging It
Tunes featuring our feathered friends? “Rockin’ Robin,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Snowbird,” “Disco Duck,” “Little Sparrow,” “Bluebird,” “Fly, Robin Fly,” “Songbird,” “Night Owls,” “Little Sparrow,” “I’m Like a Bird,” “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” “Black Bird,” “When Doves Cry,” “Albatross,” “Surfin’ Bird (Bird Is the Word),” and, of course, “Free Bird.”

Admit it: “Baby Elephant Walk” is playing in your head as you look at this.

Mammalian Music
Other animals dancing to their own tune are “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Horse with No Name,” “Rocky Raccoon,” “Wild Horses,” “White Rabbit,” “Dancing Bear,” “Buffalo Stance,” “Baby Elephant Walk,” “Muskrat Love,” “Shock the Monkey,” “Running Bear,” “Pigs on the Wing,” “Bat Dance,” and, arguably, “Teddy Bear.”

It’s not a “Funny Little Frog”, but the Mexican giant frog is impressive.

Hop of the Pops: from Fins to Scales…and Then Some
This musical menagerie also includes a “Rock Lobster,” “Three Little Fishies,” “Bat Out of Hell,” “Barracuda,” “Funny Little Frog,” “I Am the Walrus,” “Karma Chameleon,” “Union of the Snake,” “Spiders and Snakes,” “See You Later, Alligator,” “Octopus’s Garden,” and “Spanish Flea.”

And what about more “imaginative” beings? Consider “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” “Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” “The Chipmunk Song,” and, again as a matter of opinion, “Purple People Eater.” Who are we to judge?

Are there animals dancing to tunes in your head that are not on this list? Put your playlist suggestion in the comments below. Rock on!

Peggy Scott is an associate editor for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her most recent piece, Funani Knows Best.