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An Animal Crate, also called a goodie crate, is a box that Animal Friends are stored in before being released by the Kongs, although some come in Animal Barrels. When leaped on, the box breaks, exposing the animal. The friend inside can be identified by the image on the side of the box.
While Animal Crates appear in Donkey Kong Land, they do not appear at all in Donkey Kong Land 2 or Donkey Kong Land III. This is most likely because in the latter two games, most Animal Friends have special moves that they didn't have in Donkey Kong Land (for example, Rambi can charge), which requires an extra button (Select). Due to the limited amount of buttons on the Game Boy, this would leave no buttons to dismount from an animal.
In Donkey Kong 64, Animal Crates act more like Animal Barrels, transforming a Kong into an Animal Friend instead of just allowing them to ride one.
Only Rambi crates appear in Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, since he is the only Animal Friend available to ride in these games. The boxes are rather solid and cannot be destroyed by simply jumping on one as in past games, instead requiring a Ground Pound action, done either next to the crate or on top of it; Rambi crates can also be broken with a Roll Attack. They return in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, where they are renamed Rambi the Rhinoceros Boxes and are smaller. In this appearance, they can only be destroyed with a Ground Pound done atop them.