Environment

8 animal documentaries you need to watch

By Kelly Green
04.10.18

It’s World Animal Day – a day to honour the planet’s animals and to raise awareness of animal rights and welfare internationally. To celebrate, here are 7 wildlife documentaries that showcase both the majesty of wild animals and the challenges faced by the natural world.
 

Inspiring, thought-provoking, entertaining, change-making - nature documentaries have been regular fixtures on our television screens since the late 20th Century, educating viewers on the lives of wild animals and increasingly highlighting the impact that we as humans are having on nature’s fragile ecosystems.

Here are 8 must-see animal documentaries to watch right now:

1. Blue Planet II, BBC
Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series explores the fascinating underwater world of the least known part of our planet – the ocean.  Blue Planet II is the follow up to the multi-award winning 2001 nature series, The Blue Planet.  Almost five years in the making, the series uses revolutionary new technology to take viewers to never before seen parts of the ocean, bringing to life some of the most spectacular natural events and showcasing the surprising intelligence and complexities of sea creatures, as well as documenting the problems that oceans face.

WATCH SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH'S BLUE PLANET II IMPACT AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

2. Planet Earth II, BBC

In this sequel to the Emmy-winning Planet Earth series, Sir David Attenborough takes viewers to some of the most iconic habitats on earth – including deserts, jungles, mountains and cities. The series explores the natural diversity and spellbinding wildlife of each habitat from the viewpoint of the animals, highlighting the challenges they face to survive.

3. The Ivory Game

Filmed undercover for 16 months, this documentary exposes the corruption of global ivory trafficking and the impact it is having on the African elephant population. A prized status-symbol in China pushes poachers to slaughter African elephants in dangerous numbers, reducing the population by 97% in the last century. 

4. Blackfish
Heart-wrenching Blackfish challenges viewers to reconsider their relationship with nature through the story of Tilikum – a performing killer whale that killed several humans while kept in captivity. Containing shocking footage and emotional interviews, the film explores the extraordinary nature, high intelligence and enormous sentience of these magnificent creatures, exposing their cruel treatment in captivity by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry.

5. Virunga
Multi-award-winning Virunga exposes the gripping true-life story of a group of courageous park rangers risking their lives to protect one of the most bio-diverse places on earth – eastern Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to the planet’s last remaining mountain gorillas – from the threat of armed militia and poachers.  From director Orlando von Einsiedel and executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio.

6. Racing Extinction

Follow undercover activists on a mission to save endangered species from man-made mass extinction across the world. This documentary exposes hidden issues and never-before-seen images exposing the threat to life as we know it.

7. Frozen Planet 

Capturing the remote polar regions, Frozen Plant documents the ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctic. The effect of climate change on the lives of polar bears, wolves, penguins, killer whales and more species is tracked thoroughly chronicled by Sir David Attenborough.


READ SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH'S BEST QUOTES

 

8. Dynasties

Sir David Attenborough's latest series follows the true stories of five of the world's most celebrated, yet endangered animals; penguins, chimpanzees, lions, painted wolves and tigers, as they fight for the future of their family dynasties.

 

For more viewing inspiration, see our guide to life-changing documentaries to watch now.

8 animal documentaries you need to watch