The Most Stunning Moments For Animals in 2021 Will Make You Cheer – and Love Them Even More

While media outlets talk about the “Age of Extinction” for species, they never seem to include the multitude of good news—and there was a lot from 2021 to be thrilled about.

Wildlife of all kinds have been recovering for decades in great numbers. Some are even ‘coming back’ from the dead and gone. Nations are taking on conservation as a matter of national pride, and poaching is plummeting.

Best of all, humans are have amazing encounters in the natural world that we all get to share online. Here are our top picks for most enticing animal moments…

1) 100-Year-Old Galápagos Giant Tortoise Found on Island is Indeed Member of ‘Extinct’ Species

Galapagos giant tortoise by Andrew Wright

On that most famous of archipelagos, 2021 saw the return of a presumed extinct tortoise after the world waited with bated breath for months to see the results of a DNA test, one that would solve “one of the greatest mysteries of the Galapagos.” (Read more)

2) He Thought it was a Kitten Lost in the Snow – But it was One of The Most Endangered Mammals in Europe


Two hikers in the Cairngorms in Scotland rescued what they thought was a tabby kitten freezing to death in the snow, but after a specialist vet confirmed that it was a Scottish wildcat, one of the rarest mammals in Europe, and the only felid native to the British Isles. They started a fundraiser to support their conservation having formed a bond with the little guy. (Read more)

3) New Zealand is Hearing the Kiwi Call Once Again After 5 Years of Silence: ’It’s Amazing‘

Judi Lapsley Miller/CC license

Everyone calls the citizens of Australia’s island neighbor “Kiwis,” after their national bird which actually was seriously at risk for many years. Over the last 60 months, annual audio surveys of kiwi calls have revealed that the haunting sound can now be heard over vast stretches of the island where before they were absent. (Read more)

4) World’s Tiniest Pig at 10-Inches Tall, Once Thought Extinct, Is Returning to the Wild

Pygmy Hog Conservation Program

In the shadows of tigers and elephants, the smallest wild hog in the world held the entire Terai Grasslands ecosystem together. Presumed extinct until 1971, they have been captive-bred back into stable numbers and roam again in the national parks of India. (Read more)

5) Curious Whale Nudges Paddle Boarder in Argentina in Stunning Video (WATCH)

Twitter screenshot @maxijonas

A paddleboarder was out during whale watching season in Patagonia when a young humpback gave her a playful nudge that, a stunning moment that went viral after being captured by drone video. (Read more)

6) Hiker Reaches Top of Summit and Has the Most Beautiful Encounter With Mountain Goats (WATCH)

A hiker alone with his camera and his thoughts climbed a mountain in Montana. Just as he reached the summit, a mother mountain goat and her kid provided an extraordinary encounter. (Read more)

7) Size Doesn’t Matter to a Dolphin Mom As She Adopts a Whale Calf

Far Our Ocean Institute

Porpoises are famous for their friendliness, and a display of this astonished marine biologists who observed the clear and obvious adoption of an orphaned whale calf by a dolphin mother, a behavior that isn’t well understood. (Read more)

8) The Last Known Swinhoe’s Turtle on Earth Was Alone Until This Female Was Found – Researchers Hope for Babies


Giving a whole new meaning to the words “from the brink of extinction,” there was one such Swinhoe’s turtle alive in captivity, and He’ was thought to be the only one on Earth, but with the discovery of a healthy adult female, a chance for a reptile version of Adam and Eve can commence with any luck. (Read more)

9) Once Biologically Dead, London’s River Thames Rebounds – With Seahorses and Seals


Years of steady work has turned the Thames into a river that catches on fire into a bustling marine metro, teeming with seahorses, seals, seabirds, and even sharks. (Read more)

10) Zero Humpbacks Off Seattle Coast 25 Years Ago – Now 500 Return With Record Number of Calves

Photo by Christopher Michel, CC license

The background to an astonishing return in humpback whales over the last 25 years that has seen the beasts come close to pre-whaling industry numbers, record calf counts were made off the coast of Seattle. (Read more)

11) First Cloned Endangered Species in U.S. From Genes Frozen 30 Years Ago Gives Hope For Black-footed Ferret

Elizabeth Ann, at the USFWS National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center

After years of debate, conservationists cloned the black-footed ferret, the first such deployment of this future-tech in the field of conservation sees this species given a clear second chance. (Read more)

12) Watch 2,200 Cold-Stunned Turtles Being Released by Volunteers Back Into the Gulf

turtle hatchlings released stockton university lester block facebook social media

After a shocking cold snap battered Texas in late winter 2021, sea turtles were saved in huge numbers from cold-stunning by volunteers. Thousands of these vulnerable reptiles were saved and returned to the waters of the gulf after rehabilitation with help from an unlikely ally. (Read more)

13) In World First, Key African Species Will be Relocated to Another Continent After it Became Extinct in India

Charl Durand

A lucky group of Namibian and African cheetahs will be relocated to the cheetah-vacant plains of India, where they will hopefully restore the populations that once hunted there in the first-ever such carnivore re-wilding project. (Read more)

14) Rare Rhino Species Sees Dramatic Population Growth – From Just 100 to 3,700 Today, as Poaching Falls

(c) WWF Nepal

Rhinoceros species around the world, such as the greater one-horned rhino and Javan rhino, continue their dramatic recovery. Investments of $20 million worldwide into conservation projects are paying off in many countries. (Read more)

15) Spectacular Coral Event This Year Spawns Hope –And Billions of Babies For Great Barrier Reef (LOOK)

Courtesy of Reef Teach

The Great Barrier Reef’s annual coral spawn was a huge success, as if the whole underwater ecosystem was shaking like a giant slow globe, promising billions of polyps to rebuild the reef in the future (Read more)

16) Monarch Population Soars 4,900 Percent Since Last Year in Thrilling 2021 Western Migration

Shiebi AL

Having registered a barren 2020, the 2021 western monarch butterfly migration was a banner year in which more than 100,000 insects made the journey west of the Rockies to California. (Read more)

Aaaand… Here’s a living curtain call for 2021, courtesy of a graceful deep-sea jelly. Happy New Year!

SHARE the Best Moments for Animals on Social Media to Show Your Thanks to GNN… (Featured Photo credit: @fdilekuyar SWNS license)

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