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

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.”

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.

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

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.

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

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.

5) Curious Whale Nudges Paddle Boarder in Argentina

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.