Like A.L. Barye, Frémiet often visited the Jardin des Plantes to examine, study and draw the exotic animals and he succeeded Barye as Professor of Zoological Drawing at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle.
His family originated from the country and Frémiet had a love and understanding of animals which is personified in his Animalier sculpture. His work became well known for its remarkable attention to detail and his ability to capture the attitude of his subjects without sacrificing anatomical correctness.
Frémiet's talents were diverse, he produced many monumental pieces, commissions for public and state monuments, as well as producing smaller more informal portrayals of animal subjects. Characteristic of these smaller pieces is that they do not appear to be deliberately posed, but as if the animal has been caught in a moment totally unawares.
Almost all Frémiet's Animalier work was executed in the early part of his career and he first exhibited at the Salon in 1843, with a plaster model of a gazelle which was then followed by a wide selection of cats, dogs, horses, bears and many other subjects. His small animal portraits were, during his lifetime, exhibited in his studio by Madame Frémiet.