Noah famously loaded all of the animal kingdom two by two onto his ark, giving a discerning modern parent an endless list of costume options. However, certain members of the animal kingdom are more recognisable for their associations in the Bible. Some of these biblical beasts have commercially available costume options, while others require the would-be costume designer to use some creativity.
The donkey, or ass, is an iconic image for many biblical stories. Jesus rode on a donkey through a fanfare of palm branches. Joseph led Mary into Bethlehem sitting astride a donkey. Pre-made costumes are readily available. If you want to make a homemade version, the donkey's buck teeth and large, pointy ears make a good foundation for the donkey design (see "Resources").
The camel is often associated with the gift-bearing Magi. According to the biblical story, the three wise men were carried to the Christ-child with a caravan of camels. The camel remains a major form of transport throughout the deserts of the Middle East. Camel costumes are sold in both a one and two humped design. A do-it-yourself camel can be fashioned out of beige fleece. Cut a hole in the fleece large enough for the child's head. Create a hump, or two, by cutting a piece of fleece in a circle. Sew the edges of the circle to the back of the fleece tunic. Leave one side of the fleece circle open. Fill the circle with cotton stuffing, then sew the hump closed. Use the remaining fleece to build a hood with a set of small, round ears.
Sheep and Goats
Livestock, such as sheep, are mentioned throughout the Bible. A lamb was considered a prime sacrifice in the Old Testament. Even Jesus used lambs in his parables. This metaphor was effective for his audience, as many people relied on livestock for survival. Most modern sheep costumes take inspiration from the iconic pure white sheep with black legs, though sheep in the Middle East are usually different colours. Goats also play a central role in many biblical stories. A goat costume can be created at home using face paint and a set of floppy, felt ears. A small bell around the neck will bring the illusion together.
Gazelles, or Tsebi in Hebrew and Ghazal in Arabic, are mentioned by the name "Roe" in the books of Kings, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Song of Songs and Chronicles. The graceful gazelle is one of the animals mentioned in the Bible for its beauty. It is recognisable by a striking pattern of white and black stripes adorning its face and a set of twisted horns atop its head. A simple costume can be created at home using twisted pipe-cleaners as horns. The pipe-cleaners are wrapped around a headband that secures the piece to the top of the head. Black and white face paint is used to create the distinctive mask of the gazelle.