Animals The Best Documentaries About Animals  

Ranker Film
713 votes 203 voters 20.5k views 40 items

List Rules Documentaries about animals, migration, animal cruelty, and wildlife on Earth.

This is a list or the best documentaries about animals includes popular and recognizable titles, along with a lot of independent films about animals, ranked by the community, with videos and trailers. What is the best documentary about animals? Vote on the list below to find out, or add your favorite animal related documentary, if it isn't already included. 

With every vote, the order of the list will be changed to see which documentaries about animals comes out on top. If you do not see your favorite on the list, add it along with the titles below so others may vote on it as well. This list currently includes titles such as Grizzly Man, about a man who lived with bears for 13 summers in Alaska and March of the Penguins, about the arctic bird's trek during its breeding season.

Documentaries are nonfiction and made with the intention of displaying reality for historical purposes and to educate those watching the film. Most documentaries are driven by independent filmmakers and those passionate about the topics they are portraying.
list ordered by

68 18
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Blackfish is a 2013 Documentary film written by Eli B. Despres and directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

58 16
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Planet Earth is a 2006 British television series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Five years in the making, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the ...more

29 6
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Pierce Brosnan, Rie Miyazawa, Pedro Armendáriz Oceans is a 2009 French-American nature documentary film directed, produced, co-written, and narrated by Jacques Perrin, with Jacques Cluzaud as co-director. The film explores the marine species ...more

33 13
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Romane Bohringer, Charles Berling, Jules Sitruk March of the Penguins is a 2005 French nature documentary film directed and co-written by Luc Jacquet, and co-produced by Bonne Pioche and the National Geographic Society. The documentary ...more

29 11
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Grizzly Man is a 2005 documentary film by German director Werner Herzog. It chronicles the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. The film includes some of Treadwell's own footage ...more

26 9
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The Cove is a 2009 documentary film that analyzes and questions dolphin hunting practices in Japan. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. The film is a call to ...more

22 8
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14 6
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Queen Latifah, Christina Robinson, Preston Bailey Arctic Tale is a 2007 documentary film from the National Geographic Society about the life cycle of a walrus and her calf, and a polar bear and her cubs, in a similar vein to the 2005 hit ...more

16 9
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Jacques Perrin, Philippe Labro Winged Migration, is a 2001 documentary film directed by Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats and Jacques Perrin, who was also one of the writers and narrators, showcasing the immense journeys ...more

13 7
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The Last Lions is a 2011 African nature documentary film by National Geographic Society, videotaped and directed by Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The film premiered at the Palm Springs ...more

13 7
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In the Valley of the Wolves

14 8
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Kristin Scott Thomas, Jacques Perrin Microcosmos is a 1996 documentary film by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou and produced by Jacques Perrin. Set to the music of Bruno Coulais, this film is primarily a record of ...more

10 7
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Joaquin Phoenix Earthlings is a 2005 American documentary film about humanity's use of other animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and for scientific research. The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, ...more

8 5
Best Friend Forgotten is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
Best Friend Forgotten is a 2004 American documentary film that sheds light on the difficult issue of pet overpopulation. The documentary, hosted by David Duchovny, tells the stories of Oreo the ...more

8 5
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Sharkwater Paul Watson, Rob Stewart Sharkwater is a 2006 Canadian documentary film written and directed by Rob Stewart. Credited as igniting the movement to protect sharks, changing government policy, and inspiring the creation of ...more

8 6
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Galapagos: IMAX Kenneth Branagh, Carole Baldwin Galapagos: IMAX is a short documentary film directed by David Clark and Al Giddings.

6 4
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Shelter Dogs Shelter Dogs is a 2003 documentary film directed and produced by Cynthia Wade about animal welfare in the United States and the ethics of animal euthanasia. Following a particular New York ...more

6 4
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The Tiger Next Door The Tiger Next Door is a feature length 2009 documentary film directed and produced by Camilla Calamandrei.

6 4
The Bear is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
bahar-kılıç added Tchéky Karyo, Bart the Bear, Jack Wallace The Bear is a 1988 French film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Adapted from the novel The Grizzly King by American author James Oliver Curwood, the screenplay was written by Gérard ...more

7 6
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An Apology to Elephants An Apology to Elephants is a 2013 documentary that explores purported abuse and brutal treatment of elephants. It showcases elephant training and the alleged psychological trauma and physical ...more

1 0
Virunga is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
Myke Clarkson added Virunga is a 2014 British documentary film directed by Orlando von Einsiedel; it focuses on the conservation work of rangers within Virunga National Park, and the activity of a British company, ...more

1 0
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Pick of the Litter is a 2018 documentary film directed by Don Hardy Jr. and Dana Nachman. Cameras follow a litter of puppies from the moment they're born and begin their quest to become Guide ...more

1 0
Chasing Coral is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
Myke Clarkson added Chasing Coral Andrew Ackerman, Pim Bongaerts, Neal Cantin Chasing Coral is a 2017 documentary film directed by Jeff Orlowski. As coral reefs around the world vanish at an unprecedented rate, a team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on a ...more

7 7
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The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is a 2003 documentary film directed, produced, and edited by Judy Irving. It chronicles the relationship between Mark Bittner, an unemployed musician who is ...more

4 4
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Jane's Journey Jane's Journey is a 2010 documentary film written and directed by Lorenz Knauer.

2 2
Impressionen unter Wasser is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
Newhere added Impressionen unter Wasser is a documentary film released in 2002. It was directed by Leni Riefenstahl. After the premiere of her film Tiefland in 1954, for decades it was generally thought this ...more

5 6
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Sweetgrass is a 2009 documentary film that follows modern-day shepherds as they lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. It was directed by ...more

4 5
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A Cow at My Table A Cow at My Table is a 1998 documentary film examining Western attitudes towards farm animals and meat. It covers the conflict between animal rights advocates and the meat industry, and their ...more

5 7
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Daphne Sheldrick Born to be Wild 3D is an inspired story of love, dedication and the remarkable bond between humans and animals. This film documents orphaned orangutans and elephants and the extraordinary people ...more

4 6
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Bern Cohen, Reagan Leonard, Bob Angelini Project Nim is a 2011 documentary film directed by James Marsh.

3 5
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Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India is a landmark film by Mike Pandey that brought about major legislative changes to protect whale sharks worldwide. This documentary depicts the needless ...more

3 5
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Nicole Ladmiral, Georges Hubert, André Brunier Blood of the Beasts is a 1949 short French documentary film written and directed by Georges Franju. Blood of the Beasts was Franju's first film and is narrated by Georges Hubert and Nicole ...more

5 8
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The Story of the Weeping Camel is a 2003 German docudrama distributed by ThinkFilm. It was released internationally in 2004. The movie was directed and written by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi ...more

3 6
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The Eyes of Thailand is a 2012 documentary film directed and produced by Windy Borman and produced by Tim VandeSteeg. The film chronicles the work of Soraida Salwala, who opened the world's ...more

3 6
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Paul Watson At the Edge of the World is a 2008 documentary film directed by Dan Stone.

2 5
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A Sacred Duty Theodore Bikel A Sacred Duty, subtitled Applying Jewish values to help heal the world, is a 2007 60-minute documentary from Jewish Vegetarians of North America, written and produced by Lionel Friedberg. The ...more

2 6
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Dealing Dogs Dealing Dogs is a 2006 documentary film created by animal rights group Last Chance for Animals about animal welfare in the United States, specifically about the marketing and sale of dogs to ...more

2 6
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Peter Brette, Bonnie Holthus, Frank Amonte Though the Kentucky Derby only lasts two heart-pounding minutes, preparation for the annual event takes years. In this documentary, fraternal filmmakers the Hennegan brothers follow six trainers ...more

2 7
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Unnecessary Fuss Unnecessary Fuss is a film produced by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, showing footage shot inside the University of Pennsylvania's Head Injury ...more

2 8
The Jill & Tony Curtis Story is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
The Jill & Tony Curtis Story This 2008 feature-length documentary directed by Ian Ayres, is about Tony Curtis and his wife and their efforts to rescue horses from slaughterhouses. A camera crew follows Jill and Tony Curtis ...more