Mankind's Significance was established early. Though God created both animals and men from the earth, animals did not receive the breath of God's nostrils, the image of God or a soul!
Contrary to current trend, animals do not take precedence over people. In Genesis 9: 2-3, God gave mankind dominion over all living things on earth for food. So much for today's "if it's got a face, I don't eat it," philosophy. Now this doesn't mean we should be cruel to animals. Anyone exercising the fruits of the Spirit is going to show gentleness, even in a situation of dominion. But God made mankind special. Saving the babies is so much more important that saving the whales. Animals are a resource over which we should exercise wise stewardship. People are made in the image of God, capable of housing the spirit of God, and should be valued and directed to behave as children of Creator God.
God also laid down a harsh penalty for those who would shed man's blood. Genesis 9:6 says, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."