Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images
- Animals can change the world, whether they are shooting into space, carrying secret messages over a battlefield, or have a distinctly grumpy face.
- Many creatures throughout history have become pop-culture figures, whether they're real, animated, or a puppet.
- Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, and Garfield have brought joy to generations, while real animals such as Ham the chimp and Balto the Siberian husky are regarded as heroes.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Giraffes, cats, gorillas, frogs ... the list goes on and on. From a tiny pigeon to a gigantic animatronic shark, these animals have all become famous around the world.
While some are scary, others are a comforting reminder of childhood. Still others remind us that animals are not so different from humans.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the most famous animals in history.
In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first successfully cloned mammal from an adult cell.
Dolly completely changed the game for the scientific community in regards to cloning. She was born in July 1996, though her existence wasn't announced until the following year.
Dolly sparked controversy, with detractors arguing the new cloning technology could be "potentially unsafe and unethical," and lead to human cloning, something even more controversial.
However, others believed Dolly's existence could lead to the creation of animals for human organ donations or "therapeutic" cloning, in which scientists could use stem cells from cloned embyros to create treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's.
Dolly died at the age of 6 due to a lung disease, which had some people concerned about the viability of cloned animals. But after Dolly, other animals like pigs, sheep, deer, horses, and dogs have all been cloned.
Seabiscuit was an underdog that went on to become the American Horse of the Year.
Seabiscuit is perhaps the most famous horse of all time and has been the subject of films, documentaries, and books.
His story has lived on over the decades because, at first, he was not expected to amount to much. But slowly, he made his way to beating the seemingly invincible triple-crown winner War Admiral, which led to him being voted American Horse of the Year in 1938.
His longtime jockey, Red Pollard, had his own comeback story. Both Seabiscuit and Pollard were injured and learned to walk — and eventually race — together. Many people thought the duo's careers were done but they surprised the world by winning one last race, the Santa Anita Handicap, which had eluded Seabiscuit throughout his career.
The death of Harambe sparked outrage.
AP Photo/John Minchillo
Harambe was a 17-year-old gorilla living at the Cincinnati Zoo when he was shot and killed in 2016, after a 4-year-old boy fell into his enclosure. There is video footage of Harambe standing over, and then dragging, the little boy for 10 minutes before the gorilla was fatally shot.
The choice to shoot to kill, instead of use tranquilizers, sparked outrage on the internet, as Harambe was just acting within his nature as a wild animal. Some people blamed both the zoo for not having effective boundaries and the boy's parents for not watching him properly.
But Harambe's not the only animal who's been killed as a result of escape attempts or attacks. In fact, he was the 42nd animal death since 1990. So why all the fame?
Bambi starred in his very own Disney movie in 1942.
Chances are, if you happen to see a wild deer, someone around you will inevitably mention Bambi, the cervine star of the movie of the same name.
Bambi has lasted so long in our culture's collective conscience because, for many people, it was their first exposure to the concept of losing one of your parents. Bambi's mother dies violently, as the movie's villain "Man" shoots her. It's one of the most famous examples of Disney's penchant for creating motherless characters.
The shark from "Jaws," officially named Bruce, made everyone afraid to get in the water.
Sure, Bruce might not be a real shark so much as an animatronic nightmare, but the fear he instilled in the hearts of moviegoers everywhere in the summer of 1975 was very real.
"Jaws" has been called one of the greatest movies of all time — and essentially invented the summer blockbuster. Much of that comes down to just how terrifying the film's shark antagonist is.
Tilikum sparked a movement against SeaWorld when his tragic story was shared with the world in the documentary "Blackfish."
For years, the amusement park SeaWorld has had its detractors, but the movement gained momentum once the documentary "Blackfish" was released in 2013. At the center of the film was the captivity of Tilikum, one of SeaWorld's famous orca whales that had been involved in the deaths of three humans over the years.
SeaWorld said the movie was misleading, but by 2016, attendance had plummeted, at least partially due to the controversy of "Blackfish," which posited that the effects of captivity on orca whales was detrimental to their quality of life and caused them great pain.
Also that year? SeaWorld announced it was ending its orca breeding program and would be phasing them out of live shows.
The extremely relatable Grumpy Cat spawned a TV movie, merchandise, and memes after she went viral.
Grumpy Cat, aka Tardar Sauce.
David Livingston/Getty Images
Grumpy Cat became famous after a photo of her went viral in 2012 on Reddit. Her distinct appearance came from feline dwarfism and an underbite.
At the peak of her fame, Grumpy Cat had millions of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Besides her appearances in commercials, she also collaborated with SXSW Festival (and was called the biggest star of the weekend), and she appeared on morning talk shows.
Most famously, Aubrey Plaza voiced Grumpy Cat in the Lifetime movie "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever." Not many other cats can say they've got their own movie.
Sadly, Grumpy Cat died in May 2019 at the age of 7.
Lassie has appeared in novels, movies, TV shows, and video games over the years.
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
After first appearing in a short story in 1859, Lassie has been depicted in almost every form of media, most famously in movies throughout the 1940s and the 19-season-long TV show, "Lassie," which aired from 1954 to 1973.
Lassie is a heroic rough collie, loyal, and always ready to save those in need.
Most recently, Lassie appeared in a 2005 film, "Lassie."
Garfield hates Mondays just as much as the rest of us, and we've loved him for it for over 40 years.
Ron Frehm/AP Images
Garfield started out as a comic strip, but he has become much more over the last few decades. His signature orange mug has been printed on any product you could think of, from shirts to phones to clocks.
Garfield and his friends have starred in three TV series, 12 Primetime specials, two feature-length films featuring Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield, video games ... the list goes on. He might be the original grumpy cat.
"The Wizard of Oz" is one of the most loved films of all time, and at the center of it is Dorothy's canine companion, Toto.
Toto is the catalyst for the entire movie — Dorothy bumps her head and ends up in Oz because she's on a desperate mission to save her dog from being euthanized. When Dorothy ends up in the colorful, magical land of Oz, she utters the famous phrase to her pet: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
Ham the Chimp became the first monkey in space in 1961.
Ralph Morse/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
The main purpose of Ham's flight was to see if it was possible to perform tasks in space — and this little chimp proved it was. After months of preparation and training, Ham was rocketed into space and made history. For other astronautical animals on this list, it didn't turn out so well, but Ham made it home safely, thus putting Americans one step closer towards sending a man into space just a few months later.
Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather since the 1800s, though he only got a name in 1961.
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
Though the tradition of using a groundhog to predict the weather has been around for hundreds of years, Phil really got his due after the release of the 1993 film, "Groundhog Day," which centers around the town of Punxsutawney and its celebration of Groundhog Day.
Since the film, the town has seen thousands of visitors who are determined to catch a glimpse of Phil and possibly experience the magic of the movie for themselves.
Laika was the first dog in space and became a worldwide phenomenon.
Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Laika was sent into space by the Soviet Union in Sputnik 2 in 1957 after being found on the streets of Moscow. Not much was known about the effects of space on animals, and in the hurry to beat the Americans in the Space Race, Laika was sent into orbit without a means to return her to Earth. She became the first living creature to orbit the Earth.
Originally, it was thought that Laika died four days into her journey, but it was revealed in 2002 that she only lasted around five hours before overheating and dying.
Laika is memorialized throughout Russia, including a statue in Moscow that was erected in 2008.
Mickey Mouse has been the face of Disney since the beginning.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Arguably, he's the most famous mouse of all time. Mickey's trademark outfit, voice, laugh, and ears have all made him an enduring symbol of childhood, magic, and fun.
Mickey made his public debut in "Steamboat Willie", an animated short film in 1928 and the first of its kind to synchronize animation and audio. Since then, over the past 90 years, Mickey Mouse has been with us through it all. According to Disney, he has a 98% awareness rate among kids, TIME reported.
Koko the gorilla captivated the world as she learned sign language.
Bettmann / Getty Images
Koko and her handler, Francine Patterson, inspired people all over the world as Koko learned to communicate with humans via a modified version of American Sign Language. Koko proved that apes really aren't that different from humans. She even cared for her pet kittens as if they were her own offspring.
When Koko died in 2018 at the age of 46, people around the world were devastated. "Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for inter-species communication and empathy. She was beloved and will be deeply missed," the Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.
Cher Ami was awarded a medal for her bravery during World War I.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
During World War I, homing pigeons were a huge part of communicating on the battlefield. Cher Ami's famous mission took place in 1918, when she flew 25 miles in 25 minutes to save a battalion of American soldiers in France. The troops were taking heavy fire from the Germans as well as from their allies, who couldn't tell who they were shooting at.
Though Cher Ami was shot, she continued on and made it to her destination. She was blinded and lost a leg — but she had persevered.
Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, the Cross of War, for her service. Her taxidermied body is on display at the National Museum of American History.
If Mickey Mouse is the most famous animated animal, then Kermit is most certainly the most famous puppet.
Andrea McCallin/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images
Kermit is the de facto leader of the Muppets, who have been around since 1976. He starred in "The Muppet Show" and all of the subsequent Muppets movies — and he's the subject of quite a few hilarious memes.
His on-and-off relationship with Miss Piggy has also captivated avid Muppets fans for decades. While they might be "off" right now, don't worry — it won't last long with these two.
The most iconic song from "Harry Potter" is none other than "Hedwig's Theme."
When Harry Potter entered our lives in 1998, it was right alongside his beloved owl, Hedwig. Hedwig was there for Harry for (almost) all of his incredible journey throughout the wizarding world, and her death was true "loss of innocence" moment for both readers and Harry alike.
"Hedwig's Theme" is the most iconic piece of music from the franchise, and it will always be associated with the beautiful snowy owl.
Over 1 million people watched April the giraffe give birth live on YouTube.
April and her young male calf.
To be exact, 1.2 million people watched April give birth to her son, a calf named Tajiri. The internet came together to watch something beautiful happen: new life brought into the world.
Two years later, April gave birth again on livestream, and 300,000 people watched.
Balto was a real Siberian husky that saved the town of Nome, Alaska, from an outbreak of diphtheria in 1925.
In 1925, the town of Nome was hit with an outbreak of diphtheria, a deadly and contagious disease. The only antidote was hundreds of miles away in Anchorage and, thanks to bad weather and an abundance of snow, the only way to get it was by sled.
While a relay of dog sleds passed the antidote off, the final leg was led by Balto, who heroically led his team through 54 miles of blizzards and temperatures of -40. When the team successfully made it to Anchorage to get the antidote, Balto was hailed a hero.
In 1995, his story became the subject of an animated movie. He's also been immortalized by a statue in Central Park, and his taxidermied body is open to viewers at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Read the original article on Insider