Animal was performed by Frank Oz from his first appearance in the pilot for The Muppet Show until his 2000 appearance in the video game Muppet RaceMania, and has been performed regularly by Eric Jacobson since his 2002 appearance in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. On The Muppet Show, his drumming is performed by Ronnie Verrell. Animal has had roles in all Muppet movies, and was the only member of The Electric Mayhem to be included regularly on the Muppet Babies cartoons.
He was voiced by Howie Mandel in the first two seasons of Muppet Babies, followed by Dave Coulier in subsequent seasons. Animal was performed by Rob Mills in the series finale of The Jim Henson Hour, and was occasionally performed by Kevin Clash on Muppets Tonight in the absence of Frank Oz. John Kennedy also briefly performed Animal in a 2002 commercial for MasterCard, as well as the 2003 video game Muppets Party Cruise. Drew Massey performed Animal in Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony. In Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters, Animal was voiced by Hal Rayle (who also voiced Gonzo and Miss Piggy).
Frank Oz has stated that Animal's character can be summed up in five words: sex, sleep, food, drums, and pain. However, Animal has retorted: "Drums are food!" Animal's vocabulary is generally limited to guttural shouts and monosyllabic grunts, often repeating a few simple phrases, as well as his trademark gravelly laugh. During performances, Animal is usually chained to the drum set by a collar around his neck, as his musical outbursts are extremely violent. In some episodes, he has been summoned to chase off performers who are 'being annoying'.
From The Muppet Movie when the Electric Mayhem is introducing themselves:
Alone among characters on the show, Floyd has trained his fellow musician to obey a few simple off-drum commands correctly, suggesting dog training.
Animal's bushy eyebrows and hair, outrageous behavior, and wild drumming style can be associated with classical hard-partying rock drummers, such as The Who's Keith Moon and Cream's Ginger Baker, with whom Animal shares his pink hair, skirt chasing, and violent outbursts. The original Animal sketches point to one Grammy Award-winning drummer named Steve Mitchell, a friend of Jim Henson's. Animal is a savant, versatile session drummer, to back Muppet tunes, capable even of finishing a slow song, if the singer is nice lady. He can match with both Buddy Rich and Harry Belafonte in drum-offs on The Muppet Show, and on Questlove on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2011. He shows a talent for jazz in a television advert for the Renault Clio car with French footballer Thierry Henry.
Animal has also run afoul of Muppet Show guests. In 1981, the aforementioned scene with Buddy Rich ends with the seasoned pro learning Animal's gonzo style, and performing it with twice the speed and proficiency. Animal throws a drum onto the irascible entertainer's head. When he repeatedly interrupted Rita Moreno's rendition of Fever with loud drumming outbursts, she became annoyed and slammed his head between a pair of cymbals (to which Animal responded by saying "Uh, that's my kinda woman!", before passing out). In another episode, Animal became hostile toward Dudley Moore when Moore tried to replace the band with a programmable, music-playing robot. On another occasion, however, Animal is starstruck by James Coburn after the movie tough-guy demonstrates his own violent streak:
A common gag involves someone imparting a figure of speech to Animal: Animal turns to the audience, his eyes go wide and he goes berserk, taking the figure of speech literally. For example, Jim Nabors once spoke the traditional theatrical good luck wish, "Break a leg", whereupon Animal indulged him by trying to break Nabors's leg. Another gag would occasionally occur when the band plays a slow song: Animal will get about halfway through and then after announcing "Too slow!" launch into a faster paced version of the song. The band would usually comment that Animal lasted much longer than they thought he would.
Animal is a literal skirt-chaser. In The Muppets Take Manhattan, he chases a female co-ed out of the auditorium, chanting "Woo-maaaan!" after her. He also chases cars. While many Animal gags involve a role reversal, or a moment of intellectualism, others are still more innuendo. Such as in this piece of dialog from The Great Muppet Caper, where it is revealed that Animal has a passion for the impressionist paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir:
Animal favors the painter with the best French ballerinas.
In the movie Muppets from Space, Animal meets his match in the form of a security guard played by Kathy Griffin—after chasing her down a hallway with his "Woo-man" call, he later comes running back around the corner, yelling "HELP HELP!" with Griffin calling after him about how they'll settle down, buy a house, and have children.
Ty Pennington commented about the possibility of Animal suffering from ADHD when the character appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Animal was the official mascot of the U.S. Ski Team during the 1998 Winter Olympics. He was also featured in one of eleven commemorative stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
In 2010, Animal was featured in a viral video alongside power-pop band OK Go, where he challenged the band's drummer, Dan Konopka, to a staring contest. Animal ultimately wins and forces Dan to be his roadie for a year.
Animal and his fellow Muppets made a guest appearance on the Halloween 2011 episode of WWE Raw, where he was a guest timekeeper.
Animal is present in the 2011 film The Muppets, having gone into anger-management therapy since the Muppets broke up. He also made a special appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as a guest drummer with the Roots house band.