Looking for some free animal and nature documentaries to watch on YouTube? You’re in the right place. I’ve scoured through hundreds of wildlife documentaries on YouTube in the past 10 years and this is the list of my favorite long-form nature videos.
Leave a link in the comments of your favorite animal or nature documentary on YouTube and I might add it to the list as well!
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Table of Contents
- 1. Our Planet Series
- 2. Amazing Animals With Unusual Superpowers
- 3. Okavango: River of Dreams
- 4. Animal’s Building Skills
- 5. Scavengers of the Savannah
- 6. A Man Among Orcas
- 7. The World’s Weirdest Creatures
- 8. Dominion
- 9. Ocean Weirdos
- 10. Animals Like Us: Animal Emotions
- 11. How Do Animals Know When Disasters Are Coming?
1. Our Planet Series
A total of 8 episodes of this ground-breaking, Emmy award winning documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough are available for free on YouTube. It is the first nature documentary Netflix has ever made.
All episodes were released on 5 April 2019. There’s also a behind-the-scenes documentary available.
“Our Planet” was filmed and made for four years and was filmed in 50 countries, and over 600 crew members took part in the production. The series focuses on the breadth of the diversity of habitats around the world, including the Arctic wilderness, the deep sea, the vast landscapes of Africa and the diverse jungles of South America.
2. Amazing Animals With Unusual Superpowers
This documentary explores the superpowers of amazing animals and almost every animal has its own unique superpower.
For example, hairy frogs break their bones and push them out through their toes to make claws. Pit vipers, on the other hand, can see in infrared. Salmon, one of the healthiest fishes, can sense the Earth’s magnetic field to guide himself home. Bees can sense the electric field of a flower and use it to find pollen.
With that in mind, take a look at some of the mind-blowing powers of some animals.
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3. Okavango: River of Dreams
The Okavango Delta covers about 15,000 square kilometres, but after the floods of the rainy season it can even grow to around 20,000 square kilometres almost the size of New Jersey.
Explore the landscape and wildlife of the Upper Okavango River, where the deep water shows elephants swimming and carving channels through the reeds and papyrus, setting small birds afloat to drift past hippos and crocodiles. A lioness severely injured by a buffalo is left for dead by her pride. Now disabled, she must survive in the swamp alone, hunting to feed her little cubs.
4. Animal’s Building Skills
Everyone needs a place to live, but some aren’t happy with the great outdoors, they look for some home comforts – they use extraordinary specialist building skills to construct the perfect home.
Homes have many uses. They can prove a bolthole to escape predators, a safe nursery in which to raise young, a
Animals of many shapes and sizes build their own homes. Perhaps the biggest construction projects are those undertaken by ants. Hundreds of thousands work together to construct their home.
Small mammals are expert diggers. Meerkats and hamsters both excavate elaborate tunnels where they can stay out of harm’s way and raise their young, though the hamster likes to work alone while the meerkats prefer to have the company of an entire clan.
When it comes to making a nursery, it’s birds who steal the show. In just a few days they can construct a basket of twigs – a nest that can support their growing family and keep them out of harm’s way.
There is one other good builder in the animal kingdom – us. Did we learn our skills from the animal home builders?
5. Scavengers of the Savannah
As soon as a wildebeest dies, lions feed on its carcass for a week or more. Soon after, other scavengers will come for their share: vultures, marabou storks, and hyenas all come to feed.
Over a period of five months, using macro and aerial photography, this film weaves an intimate tale of scavengers on the plains of East Africa, including the wildebeest and zebra migrations across the Mara River.
6. A Man Among Orcas
Enduring raging winds and icy waters with minimal protection, he enters the intimacy of elephant seals and orcas using clever ethological analyses and gets them used to his presence. Then comes the extraordinary: meet a man who communicates with penguins with body language, calms young seals and turns them into live pillows, lies underwater with 8-ton orcas or mature male seals.
7. The World’s Weirdest Creatures
Nature has many weird creatures to offer and often these animals fascinate us the most.
There are ants in Australia’s outback that use specialized workers as living honey pots. In Africa, in the endless Bangweulu wetlands of Zambia, the shoebill is on the hunt for fish, a bird that definitely lives up to its name.
Finally in the Brazilian rainforests lurk gruesome river monsters in the Amazon abyss that send shivers down the spine of even the most experienced divers.
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But there are also intense human-animal-relationships like the close bond between a German diver and a dolphin female who explore the Atlantic off the coast of Ireland, or the “easy rider” in California who has taken care of an African elephant bull for more than 25 years. Weird! is a breath-taking journey to visit animals around the globe who are somehow different.
Dominion uses drones, hidden and handheld cameras to expose the dark underbelly of modern animal agriculture, questioning the morality and validity of humankind’s dominion over the animal kingdom.
While mainly focusing on animals used for
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Sia, Sadie Sink, and Kat Von D, and co-produced by Earthlings creator Shaun Monson.
9. Ocean Weirdos
From the ocean shallows to the very depths of the abyss, you’ll find some of the sea’s strangest, ugliest, and most dangerous creatures.
Unique footage from the deep ocean of weird animals and behaviors never seen before, while from the shallows meet ocean residents wilder than your craziest dreams.
A truly global film, introducing creatures from every corner of the planet’s oceans.
10. Animals Like Us: Animal Emotions
Scientists have long been thought that animals were not able to have emotions. Thanks to recent advances in neuroscience, we can better understand what is happening in the animal brain.
Recognizing the existence of animal feelings implies moral obligations. Things however are changing… and many scientists who study animal behavior are paying more and more attention to emotions.
But how could it be otherwise? To better understand a behavior we need to compare it to an already seen already and understood situation.
And what could better help us understand a specific behavior than our own experience, our own behavior and our own emotions.
11. How Do Animals Know When Disasters Are Coming?
Sense of Danger explores the previously unexplained phenomenon of how animals around the world use their innate senses to predict approaching disasters.
This film produces evidence from looking at major worldwide disasters, including the tsunami in Thailand and earthquakes in San Francisco and Turkey. It also looks at the 1975 earthquake in China, the only major earthquake in history predicted by animal instinct – which saved 200,000 lives.
Do our animal friends possess a special sense, well beyond human ability, that serves as an efficient early warning system in times of danger?