The Best Documentaries About Animals  

Ranker Film
922 votes 274 voters 23.7k views 43 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 animal documentaries 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
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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
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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
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Blackfish is a 2013 Documentary film written by Eli B. Despres and directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
In the Valley of the Wolves is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
In the Valley of the Wolves
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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
Virunga is listed (or ranked) 15 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
Penguins is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Documentaries About Animals
Ed Helms
Penguins is a 2019 American nature documentary film directed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson. The coming-of-age story follows an Adélie penguin named Steve who joins millions of ...more
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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
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Jane's Journey
Jane's Journey is a 2010 documentary film written and directed by Lorenz Knauer.
Best Friend Forgotten is listed (or ranked) 19 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
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Galapagos: IMAX Kenneth Branagh, Carole Baldwin
Galapagos: IMAX is a short documentary film directed by David Clark and Al Giddings.
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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
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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
The Bear is listed (or ranked) 23 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
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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
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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