The Best Nature and Animal TV Shows: Captivating Encounters and Inspiring Stories
Television has the power to transport us to captivating worlds, immersing us in the wonders of nature and the animal kingdom. From breathtaking documentaries to heartwarming series, there is an abundance of extraordinary content that celebrates the beauty and diversity of our planet. Whether you're seeking thrilling wildlife encounters, fascinating underwater discoveries, or heartwarming tales of animal rescue, the best nature and animal TV shows provide an escape into captivating realms that will leave you in awe. Join us as we explore a curated selection of must-watch shows that have garnered critical acclaim and captured the hearts of viewers worldwide.
Chasing Ice (2012) 96% (National Geographic)
(Photo by National Geographic)
What it is: Chasing Ice is a captivating documentary that chronicles the years-long efforts of a celebrated National Geographic photographer to capture the devastating effects of climate change using time-lapse cameras. The film has been hailed as both spectacular and depressing and has been deemed the most important documentary of the year. Tugging at heartstrings, Chasing Ice serves as both a call to attention and a call to action.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 30 minutes.
Flight of the Butterflies (2012) 100% (SK Films)
What it is: For those seeking a shorter yet mesmerizing documentary experience, Flight of the Butterflies is the perfect choice. This captivating film follows the yearlong migration cycle of monarch butterflies from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and back, showcasing the awe-inspiring beauty of these delicate creatures. Bursting with compelling visuals, Flight of the Butterflies offers a profound glimpse into the wonders of our planet.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 45 minutes.
Blackfish (2013) 98% (Magnolia Pictures)
What it is: Blackfish is an unforgettable and thought-provoking documentary that shook the world upon its release. Focused on the story of a performing orca named Tilikum, the film sheds light on the intelligence of these majestic creatures and the devastating impact of their lifelong captivity. Blackfish has been praised as startling, powerful, and a troubling exposé of Sea World's hazardous entertainment trade. Its profound impact led to significant changes within the amusement park industry.
Critics Consensus: Blackfish is an aggressive and impassioned documentary that will forever alter your perception of performance killer whales.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 83 minutes.
The Ivory Game (2016) 77% (Netflix)
What it is: The Ivory Game, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a hard-hitting and eye-opening documentary that delves into the ruthless world of the ivory trade, both legal and illegal. Through undercover investigations, the film exposes the horrific practice of elephant tusk poaching and highlights the urgent need for action from activists and governments. The Ivory Game serves as a gripping call to protect vulnerable wildlife and preserve our fragile ecosystem.
Critics Consensus: The Ivory Game is hard-hitting and ambitious, urging viewers to take immediate action to combat the looming threat facing vulnerable wildlife and our delicate ecosystem.
Where to watch it: You can watch The Ivory Game on Netflix.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 52 minutes.
Virunga (2014) 100% (Netflix)
What it is: Virunga takes its name from Virunga National Park in the Congo, considered one of the most biologically diverse areas on our planet. This captivating Netflix documentary not only showcases the park's breathtaking wildlife but also highlights the tireless efforts of dedicated teams working to protect its endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga also provides a behind-the-scenes look at the production, focusing on the gorillas featured in the film. Since the documentary's release, the park has unfortunately had to temporarily close to the public due to increased violence.
Critics Consensus: Virunga offers a heart-rending glimpse into the vulnerability of natural wonders threatened by human greed, while celebrating those who devote their lives to defending them.
Where to watch it: You can watch Virunga on Netflix.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 40 minutes, with an additional 30 minutes if you choose to watch Virunga: Gorillas in Peril.
Encounters at the End of the World (2007) 94% (Thinkfilm)
What it is: Encounters at the End of the World, directed by German filmmaker Werner Herzog, is an enthralling documentary that accompanies viewers on a journey to Antarctica. Herzog serves as both narrator and guide, providing unique and thought-provoking insights into the environment and human nature. This film offers a poignant exploration of the human psyche amidst haunting landscapes.
Critics Consensus: Encounters at the End of the World presents a powerful study of humanity's connection to the natural world, set against breathtaking and otherworldly backdrops.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 40 minutes.
Jane (2017) 98% (National Geographic)
What it is: Jane is an acclaimed National Geographic documentary that offers an intimate and unprecedented look into the life and work of renowned conservationist Jane Goodall. Drawing from over 100 hours of previously unseen footage, the film takes viewers back to the 1960s, when Goodall was in her mid-20s and conducting groundbreaking research on chimpanzees. With a mesmerizing score by composer Philip Glass, Jane provides a captivating portrait of Goodall's journey and her invaluable contributions.
Critics Consensus: Jane honors the enduring legacy of its subject through absorbing storytelling, breathtaking cinematography, and enlightening revelations about Goodall's decades of groundbreaking work.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 30 minutes.
Chasing Coral (2017) 100% (Netflix)
What it is: From the director of Chasing Ice comes Chasing Coral, a compelling and visually stunning documentary that focuses on the alarming phenomenon of coral bleaching caused by carbon emissions and pesticides. This thought-provoking film highlights the tangible and quantifiable impacts of global warming, serving as a wake-up call to the urgent need for conservation efforts.
Critics Consensus: Chasing Coral offers breathtakingly beautiful visuals of Earth's astonishing coral reefs while delivering a sobering warning about their uncertain future.
Where to watch it: You can watch Chasing Coral on Netflix.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 30 minutes.
The Year Earth Changed (2021) 100% (Apple)
What it is: The Year Earth Changed is a timely and reflective documentary narrated by the iconic David Attenborough. The film explores the unexpected consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which temporarily halted human activities and allowed nature to reclaim spaces within empty cities. This fascinating documentary serves as a testament to the resilience of the natural world and offers a profound look at an unprecedented phenomenon.
Where to watch it: You can watch The Year Earth Changed on Apple TV.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 48 minutes.
March of the Penguins (2005) 94% (National Geographic)
What it is: March of the Penguins is a timeless documentary that introduced many viewers to the wonders of nature. Through mesmerizing cinematography and the iconic voice of Morgan Freeman, the film explores the remarkable journey of emperor penguins in their quest for survival. This pop culture touchstone became a box office hit and even won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. A sequel, March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step, is also available for streaming on Hulu.
Critics Consensus: March of the Penguins will touch even the most hardened soul with its heartwarming tale of determination and resilience.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 20 minutes.
My Octopus Teacher (2020) 93% (Netflix)
What it is: My Octopus Teacher offers a unique and intimate story that explores the transformative relationship between one man and a curious octopus. South African free diver Craig Foster forms an unlikely bond with this fascinating creature during his dives, and over the course of a year, captures his experiences and reflections. Through this extraordinary connection, Foster gains a newfound appreciation for life and the intricate connections between humanity and nature.
Where to watch it: You can watch My Octopus Teacher on Netflix.
Commitment: The film has a runtime of 1 hour 24 minutes.
All Creatures Great And Small (2020 - Present)
Stream On BritBox
All Creatures Great And Small is a delightful television series adaptation of the beloved novels by James Herriot. Set in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales, the show revolves around the adventures and misadventures of James as he embarks on a veterinary apprenticeship. With its charming storytelling and heartfelt moments, the series stays true to the spirit of the original novels and offers a blend of humor, warmth, and bittersweetness.
Oakley, Yukon Vet (2014 - Present)
Stream On Disney
Oakley, Yukon Vet follows the remarkable work of Dr. Oakley, a veterinarian based in the Yukon. From sled dogs to reindeer, Dr. Oakley has dedicated her life to caring for a wide range of species in this challenging environment. The show's magnetic appeal lies in its authenticity, showcasing the compassion and dedication of Dr. Oakley and offering a fascinating glimpse into the world of her veterinary practice.
The Supervet: Noel Fitzpatrick (2014 - Present)
Stream On Disney
The Supervet: Noel Fitzpatrick takes viewers into the world of renowned veterinarian Noel Fitzpatrick as he performs incredible surgeries and lifesaving treatments for animals in Surrey, England. The show fearlessly tackles the challenges faced in veterinary medicine and showcases Fitzpatrick's unwavering commitment to his profession. While some surgical scenes may be graphic, the sheer compassion and dedication displayed by Fitzpatrick make the show a must-watch for animal lovers.
Pit Bulls & Parolees (2009 - Present)
Stream On Discovery Plus
Pit Bulls & Parolees centers around an animal rescue organization dedicated to dispelling the stigma surrounding pit bulls and providing employment opportunities for individuals who have been released on parole. This heartwarming show invites viewers to form emotional connections with both the dogs and the compassionate individuals caring for them. Through their efforts, the series highlights the transformative power of love and second chances.
The Incredible Dr. Pol (2011 - Present)
Stream On Disney
The Incredible Dr. Pol has established itself as one of the best reality TV series in the realm of animal shows. Dr. Pol, with his undeniable charm and authenticity, takes viewers on a journey through the highs and lows of his veterinary practice. This lighthearted yet honest show offers a glimpse into the daily life of a veterinarian, filled with both humorous and challenging moments. It captures the true essence of what it means to care for animals and the dedication required in this profession.
Lucky Dog (2013 - Present)
Stream On Pluto TV
The series Lucky Dog is not only easy to fall in love with, but it also tackles emotionally intense subject matter. As the title suggests, the show centers around dogs that are rescued from animal shelters, where they would otherwise face euthanasia.
According to a comment by a Reddit user, Lucky Dog revolves around a dog trainer who saves dogs from shelters, matches them with families, and provides training tailored to their specific needs. The show offers an intriguing glimpse into the lives of dogs with various issues and at different stages of life. It is a simple yet heartwarming exploration of the journey these pets undertake before finding their forever homes.
Canine Intervention (2021 - Present)
Stream On Netflix
The care and training of our furry companions have been a recurring theme on television, and Canine Intervention stands out as one of the finest shows in this genre. What sets it apart is the urgent need to train the dogs featured in the series, as failure to do so may result in them being euthanized.
A Reddit user who does not typically watch shows of this nature expressed their appreciation for Canine Intervention on Netflix. The show is designed to evoke emotional investment from viewers, leaving them with a sense of satisfaction after each episode.
Gator Boys (2012 - Present)
Stream On The Roku Channel
Gator Boys can be considered one of television's finest nature documentaries, despite its humorous premise of individuals grappling with alligators to protect humans. Beneath the surface, the show offers a deeper exploration of the ongoing struggle between the civilized world and the forces of nature.
However, Gator Boys is not just intellectually engaging. According to a Reddit user, it is also a low-key and enjoyable experience. They find it fascinating to observe how the individuals featured in the show interact with the animals, especially in contrast to those who seek their assistance. The series successfully combines entertainment with thought-provoking content.
Animal Airport (2012 - 2013)
Not Currently Available To Stream
Animal Airport stands out from other animal series due to its unique focus on the animals that pass through Heathrow Airport on a daily basis. The show offers a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges faced by airport staff in handling these animals.
One enthusiastic fan of the show expressed their love for it on Reddit, highlighting the diversity of content it offers and the evident passion of the people working there. Animal Airport provides an enjoyable experience by showcasing not only the expected cats and dogs, but also a range of exotic creatures passing through the airport.
So whether you're fascinated by the vast landscapes and majestic creatures of the natural world or intrigued by the daily lives and extraordinary stories of animals and their caretakers, there's no shortage of captivating nature and animal TV shows to indulge in. From the critically acclaimed documentaries that shed light on environmental issues to heartwarming series that showcase the bond between humans and their furry friends, these shows offer a window into the diverse and awe-inspiring world we share with nature and its incredible inhabitants. So grab your remote, settle in, and prepare to be transported to some of the most remarkable corners of our planet in the company of the best nature and animal TV shows.
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