The Super Bowl just wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without two things: scantily clad, beer-drinking babes and a veritable menagerie of critters, talking and otherwise, parading (or galloping, flying and hopping) across television screens during commercial breaks. In fact, according to a 2010 Nielsen Company survey, 51 percent of Super Bowl viewers enjoy the commercials more than the gridiron showdown itself. And among these commercial-loving viewers, we’re going to assume that a majority of them go particularly wild over wildlife, whether it involves beer-hawking frogs or flavored water-guzzling lizards hitting the dance floor with a supermodel who sometimes behaves like an animal herself.

Below you’ll find 12 of our favorite animal-centric Super Bowl commercials. The tone of these Super Bowl adverts ranges from uproarious to poignant to just plain weird, but one thing’s for sure: Product-pushing animals are cheaper, less demanding and frequently less messy than celebrities. Do you have a favorite animal-starring commercial from Super Bowls past?

Bud Light “Spuds MacKenzie”

DDB (1987)

Budweiser “Frogs”

D’Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles (1995)

Nissan “Pigeons”

TBWA/Chiat/Day (1997)

Tabasco “Mosquitos”

DDB Needham Worldwide (1998)

EDS “Herding Cats”

Fallon McElligott (2000)

Mountain Dew — “Cheetah”

BBDO (2000)

Ready for more? See six more amazing animal ads>

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.