The fables of West has few references to animals, and some paint the animals negatively. For example, the evil wolf in Red Riding Hood. On the other hand in Indian fables such as in the Panchatantra, The stories are full of animal characters and morals for humans and many of these stories date back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC.
And then, we have our Hindu Gods who are often depicted complete with their favourite animals, whether cows, elephants snakes or even rats! Used either as pets or vehicles. This made animals sacred for many centuries and helped preserve our wildlife although now the influences of the West has changed us to some extent.
Animals were always a part and parcel of our culture, and I am very proud of it. The Gods showed us the way.
Strangely westerners ridicule our "worship" of animals and even have contempt for it. They have ofcourse killed off most of their wildlife! They have little or not understanding of the importance of animals in Hinduism and even less about the right of a form of life to live, a right others have as much as humans. All their recent efforts to preserve animals are esoteric in nature, without a base in spiritualism. It's good ofcourse, a way for them to make up for the many centuries of animal slaughter.
Krishna loved milk and milk products and this is him with a pet cow.
Nandi, the Bull, is Lord Shiva's ride and found outside many temples.
This is at the pre-historic site of the Kailashnath Temple at Ellora. This temple has several sculptures of lions and elephants. In Hinduism animals are considered on par with humans, not inferiors and that is why they have a place with God.
Turtles are often found in temples, at the feet of the Gods. In Hinduism, a tortoise is one who carries the world on his back, upholding the Earth and the sea. Turtles are revered in some other ancient cultures as well.
Read more about the importance of animals in Hinduism here.
The Image of different Religions is well illustrated in this post by taking random first images off the internet.