In these selections, an animal plays an important role in the action or plot of the story.
The animals in these stories are real. For stories where animals talk or are stand-ins for humans, see Allegories
Stories that feature any animal other than a cat or dog will be placed on this page.
See also Cats & Dogs
See also Hunting
See also Survival
When Twilight Falls on the Stump Lots | Charles G. D. Roberts
A young cow gives birth to its first calf. Nearby, a gaunt she-bear hungrily but patiently for a chance to strike.
The Boy Who Talked with Animals | Roald Dahl
When a large turtle lands on a resort’s beach, people want to kill it for the meat and shell. A boy tries desperately to save the turtle.
Esme | Saki
In the countryside, a baroness and her friend encounter a hyena. It wants a snack.
Strayed | Charles G. D. Roberts
A young domesticated ox has a wild nature – he longs to escape his yoke and flee into the forest. He remembers good time there and wants to live free in an endless summer.
Coco | Guy De Maupassant
A young farmhand beats and starves a nag in his care.
A Passion in the Desert |Honore De Balzac
A captured French soldier escapes but gets stranded in the desert, and encounters a panther.
The Saint Joseph’s Ass | Giovanni Verga
A little-valued donkey is sold several times, always working hard for its new owner.
The Old Hunter | Liam O’Flaherty
An old horse throws its owner into a filthy drain, and then earns some renown for an impressive feat of swimming endurance.
Bird of Prey | John Collier
A married couple has a pet parrot. One night, it gets mysteriously attacked, possibly by an eagle.
Read here (Warning: Spoiler in the top description)
The Merino Sheep | Banjo Paterson
The narrator takes it upon himself to explain the true nature – and extreme stupidity – of the merino sheep.
A White Heron | Sarah Orne Jewett
Nine-year-old Sylvia lives in the country and has a strong connection to animals and nature. One day a young man, a hunter, comes through the area and stays with Sylvia and her grandmother. He is looking for a rare heron to add to his collection.
Shooting an Elephant | George Orwell
The narrator is a British colonial policeman in Burma. He gets a report that there’s an elephant loose, causing damage in the marketplace. While looking for it, he comes across a dead Burmese man, crushed by the elephant. This escalates the situation and he’s not sure if he will be able to avoid shooting the elephant.
The Colt | Wallace Stegner
It is spring-time on a farm. Because of all the excitement, Bruce forgets to take in the mare, Daisy. She is going to give birth soon. Bruce and his mother hear the dogs making a lot of noise, so they rush off to see if Daisy and her colt are alright.
“The Colt” (Pg. 186)
Midnight | Will James
The narrator is a mustang runner: he traps wild horses and then sells them. The trouble is, he loves horses and doesn’t like taking their freedom. He gives up his work, releasing the newest batch of caught horses, including a black one that comes to be known as Midnight. It’s a highly prized horse, and the price for its capture increases.
The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse | William Saroyan
The narrator recounts the events of the summer he was nine. His cousin Mourad tapped at his bedroom window at four in the morning, riding a beautiful white horse. They went out riding together before everyone else was up.
Brilliant Silence | Spencer Holst
Two Alaskan Kodiak bears are part of a travelling circus act. They do various tricks and become crowd favorites.
What Happened During the Ice Storm | Jim Heynen
There is freezing rain one winter. Everyone thinks it’s beautiful until it gets dangerous and the livestock have to be moved inside.
Horse Camp | Ursula K. Le Guin
Sal and Norah, sisters, are waiting for a bus with their friend Ev. They are going to Horse Camp, and talk about the cabins, the counsellors, and the head handler, Meredy.
Zlateh the Goat | Isaac Bashevis Singer
Hanukkah is approaching, and Reuven doesn’t have enough money for the necessary supplies. He sends his son, Aaron, to sell the family’s beloved goat, Zlateh, to the town butcher. On their way, the weather turns unexpectedly, and they get lost in the storm.
The Tiger Lodgers | Julio Cortazar
A family decides to lodge a tiger. They describe the practical and moral difficulties it entails.
Twilight | Wladyslaw Reymont
Sokol, an old horse, lies dying. He is neglected, aside from an occasional visit from the hunting-dogs. Sokol is miserable and afraid as he dies alone.
The Trout | Sean O’Faolain
A young girl and her brother find a fish in a narrow well. She doesn’t know how it got there, and she thinks about how it has been alone for so long.
See also Jim Baker’s Blue Jay Yarn/The Blood Bay (Tall Tales), I Want to Know Why (Coming of Age)