Not only is the theme clever, typical for Dan, but the level of difficulty in getting two fiften-letter and three thirteen-letter items in a 15X15 grid is a considerable feat.
This puzzle may have been a bit difficult for a Tuesday, I don't know, but it was too good. It had two clever entries: "Copy cats" for MEOW and "It'll never fly" for EMU, but later in the week it would have had more. I'd save my best hitter for clean-up, not lead-off.
Typical of Dan's work, the clues were varied in subject, from literature to lamas; from Rob Roy to rap.