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10 Heartwarming Nature Documentaries to Add to Your Must-Watch List

Cancel your weekend plans. These must-watch nature documentaries are insightful, funny, informative, and inspiring.

best nature documentaries
Written by
Asha Swann
Published
When most of us think of documentaries, we often think of a narrator with a monotone voice. One that loses our interest and puts us asleep. But in recent years, we've seen thought-provoking documentaries and docuseries that have kept us on the edges of our seats.
Remember binge-watching Tiger King at the beginning of 2020? From history to pop culture, documentaries have an increasing grip on our attention span. And now, nature documentaries on are the rise, too.
If Joe Exotic gave you your first taste of
animal life
, you might be wondering what else is out there. Nature documentaries are a great place to start your journey into becoming an environmentalist.
If you're ready to learn more about nature and
climate change
, or you've got a soft spot for animals, you'll want to press play on these heartwarming documentaries.

10 Nature Documentaries That Will Inspire You

1.
Fantastic Fungi

Where to Watch: Netflix
If you're a fan of those super-satisfying time-lapse videos of flowers blooming, you'll love Fantastic Fungi. This documentary is beautifully filmed, giving some much-needed love to the secret world of fungi!
You'll be astonished at just how much these plants have done over the last three billion years—and you'll be able to impress your friends with your newfound fungi facts.

2.
My Octopus Teacher

Where to Watch: Netflix
Ask any
pet owner
and they'll tell you that animals and humans can have incredible bonds. But we don't normally think about octopi the way we think of puppies.
This riveting Oscar-winning documentary will show the incredible change one person can make in an octopus' life. And it'll leave you longing for that special connection.

3.
A Life on Our Planet

Where to Watch: Netflix
David Attenborough strikes again with this powerful documentary. This film is great for anyone looking to get into documentaries but isn't ready to commit to the entire Our Planet series.
It's optimistic about solving climate change and opens our eyes to human impacts on the environment and how to make a difference.

4.
Into the Okavango

Where to Watch: Disney+
Calling all elephant lovers! This National Geographic documentary goes in-depth about the incredible story of elephants living in the Okavango River Basin.
But this river isn't just for elephants: It's a huge ecosystem essential for maintaining ecological communities throughout southern Africa. You're bound to learn something new and think about a species you may have never considered before.

5.
Secrets of the Whales

Where to Watch: Disney+
Produced by James Cameron, this documentary series was filmed over the course of three years in over 20 locations.
The Emmy-winning series is sure to tug at your heartstrings as you watch countless whales migrate and survive in rigorous ocean climates. And it's narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver, so you don't have to worry about a boring narrator that'll put you to sleep!

6.
Betty White Goes Wild

Where to Watch: Disney+
Our hearts broke when Betty White passed away at the tail end of 2021. Back in 2013, she took part in a fun, insightful documentary, exploring wild animals from all over the world.
Betty White's signature sense of humor shines through in this film. Perfect for all ages, this documentary is just one way White's legacy lives on.

7.
Jane

Where to Watch: Disney+
Jane Goodall is a primatologist and an anthropologist, and she's been in the game for decades. This documentary follows her intimate research with chimpanzees.
Her work shows just how similar we are to our ape ancestors, and this film shows the passionate woman behind the groundbreaking research.

8.
Chasing Coral

Where to Watch: Disney+
Did you know
coral isn't actually a plant
? It's an animal, and this documentary shows how coral is seriously misunderstood. Our oceans are mysterious, with so much still unexplored and unknown. This film dives—literally—into the world of
coral reefs
and ocean life.
It combines gorgeous underwater camerawork with mind-blowing research and education. And it's perfect for anyone looking to learn more about ocean ecosystems.

9.
The Year Earth Changed

Where to Watch: Apple TV+
In March 2020, environmentalists everywhere wondered how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown would affect climate change. This documentary tries to answer exactly that.
Researchers analyze
how nature responded
in nature's ecosystems. It shows a large-scale, unprecedented experiment that may have never occurred otherwise.

10.
March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step

Where to Watch: Hulu
Need a documentary with a familiar voice? You're in luck! Morgan Freeman narrates the iconic story of emperor penguins. The first film of this series came out in 2005, and now viewers get to see what has changed over the course of 13 years.
Not only is this a story about penguins, but it also specifically highlights the life of a human-like emperor penguin couple, resonating with viewers everywhere.