A: There is no biblical evidence that God created animals at the beginning with vicious natures. We do find, however, that the nature of animals changed, when they gave in to Satan’s influence.
We read, for example, in Genesis 3:1 that “the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” While Satan is described as a serpent and as a dragon (Revelation 20:2), it appears that Eve was confronted by and spoke to a real serpent in the Genesis account. Satan gave the serpent a voice — as later, God gave a donkey a man’s voice to speak to the false prophet Balaam (Numbers 22:28; 2 Peter 2:16).
We read that the serpent — that is, the animal — was more cunning or more subtle than every other beast of the field. Later, God punished the serpent, stating that it was more cursed than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field (Genesis 3:14). God pronounces punishment on a literal serpent, as well as, of course, on Satan the devil who used the serpent.
Did God create the serpent with a cunning and subtle nature? The Hebrew word for “was,” in Genesis 3:1, is “haya,” which can also mean, “became.” It appears that the serpent — under Satan’s influence and control — had become more subtle and cunning than the other animals. At that point, its nature had changed.
Under the influence of Satan, in due course, the nature of other animals changed, too. In fact, the nature of animals became so evil that God decided to kill them in a flood. We read in Genesis 6:7 that God was sorry that He had made man and beast. Genesis 6:11 tells us that the earth was corrupt and filled with violence. Genesis 6:12 adds that all flesh had corrupted their way. This includes the animal world. Genesis 6:13 states that the end of all flesh had come, and that the earth — due to Satan’s influence and control — had become filled with violence through them. Genesis 7:21 states specifically that the term “all flesh” includes at least all of the land animals and birds, as well as man: “And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man.”
God destroyed man and beast, just saving a few. Perhaps, God restored the nature of the surviving animals temporarily to its original peaceful ways, while they were in the ark — after God had miraculously directed them to enter the ark.
We see then, that God destroyed the animals in the flood, since they had corrupted their ways. This corruption might have included bestiality. Later, when men and animals engaged in this horrible perversion, they both had to be killed (Leviticus 20:15-16). Also, God demands that an animal be killed that kills a man (Genesis 9:5). In ancient Israel, when an ox killed a person, it had to be stoned, and its flesh was not to be eaten (Exodus 21:28-32). The reason is that the nature of those animals had changed for the worse — it has been proven that animals can become accustomed to, and begin to like, such terrible conduct.
In the Millennium, God will change the wild and cruel nature of animals, as Isaiah 11:6-9, and Isaiah 65:25 tell us. This does not mean, however, that all animals will be “domesticated,” and there will be no more “wild” animals. But those “wild” animals will not live anywhere near humans. We read, though, that “wild” beasts of the field will live where the city of Babylon or Nineveh once stood — while no human will live there (Jeremiah 50:39-40; Jeremiah 51:37; Revelation 18:2; Zephaniah 2:13-15). We also read that “wild” animals will live in the devastated and forsaken region of former Edom (Isaiah 34:5, 11-17; Malachi 1:3).
For more in-depth information on the world of animals, please read our free booklet, “Evolution — A Fairy Tale for Adults?” You might also want to listen to our sermon on “Animals — Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”