Whether it’s about an uncanny bond between human and canine, the grand life adventures of a Parrot, or a summer of terror unleashed by a great white shark, there’s no denying the appeal of a story with animal characters. Animal stories are fundamental to every culture, as they open our imaginations to the mysteries of the non-human world.

BOOKS

Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl

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Fantastic Mr. Fox is the tale of a daring and dashing fox who would risk anything to feed his family. When the farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean tire of Mr. Fox plundering their farms, they corner him, forcing Mr. Fox and his friends to get creative in their hunting and gathering schemes.

Animal Farm – George Orwell

pigs in mud
Image by Matthew J Thomas

This quaint-sounding novel is actually an exacting dystopian satire written as a grand allegory for the pivotal events leading up the Russian Revolution. With its plot-for-plot links to history, the novel is an iconic treatment of the treachery involved in rule of the many by the few.

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell

black horse
Image by anakondasp

A poignant animal welfare memoir told by Black Beauty himself, this story follows the horse through the ups and downs of his life, first as a happy calf on a farm with his mother, then his treacherous days pulling cabs in London, and finally his happy retirement to the countryside.

Winnie the Pooh – A. A. Milne

cute teddy bear
Image by Thomas Zsebok

This title has seen many remakes and reprisals, but the original story introduces the titular teddy bear and his charming cast of stuffed and live friends to the world. The characters were inspired by A. A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, and his collection of toys.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

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Pictured: [1] Image by tlorna [2] Image by billybruce2000 [3] Image by Anatoli Styf


A magic wardrobe acts as a portal into another world, leading four prophesied children to the mysterious Narnia, where they discover talking animals and encounter the dangerous White Witch who has ruled imperiously over the land for 100 years.

Watership Down – Richard Adams

group of rabbits in forest
Image by Subbotina Anna

An epic adventure tale about a group of rabbits who must resettle their home, it’s not just the plot that deserves the epic reputation: Author Richard Adams created an entire culture surrounding the rabbits, including a language (Alpine), proverbs, and mythology.

H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald

falcon hawk falconry
Image by LouieLea

At face value, this is a memoir about the author’s grief after her father dies suddenly. As a falconer, she buys a young goshawk to help her cope. But when you delve deeper, this is a book that fuses nature writing and biography with the memoir genre in an unexpected way, creating an entirely new shape for storytelling.

The Call of the Wild – Jack London

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Image by iamjeffery

Set during the Klondike Gold Rush, this novel follows a dog named Buck who is sold into service as a sled dog. The harsh Alaskan environment forces Buck to ditch his domesticated ways as he becomes more reliant on animal instinct for survival.

Stuart Little – E.B. White

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Pictured: [1] Image by Rudmer Zwerver [2] Image by Nicku [3] Image by Stephan Guarch

An intellectual mouse is born to a family of humans, and so begins the story of little Stuart. His unconventional upbringing opens up a [much larger] world of possibilities to him, like riding in toy sailboats and road tripping in a model car, though he still participates in mouse-like activities, like evading the family cat, Snowball.

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

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Image by cdrin

This book counts amongst its accolades some of the most well-known characters, plot devices, and opening sentences (“Call me Ishmael.”) in literary history. The epic tale follows Captain Ahab and his crew as they sail around the world on the whaler Peqoud in vengeful pursuit of the elusive sperm whale, Moby Dick.

MOVIES

Jurassic Park 

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Pictured: [1] Image by Geoff Hardy [2] Image by Geoff Hardy

Humanity’s fascination with dinosaurs peaked with this story about a theme park filled with cloned Velociraptors, Brontosaurus’, and a terrifying T-Rex. During a preview tour meant to demonstrate the park’s safety things go terribly wrong, and a group of scientists and two brave children must fight for their survival.

Planet of the Apes

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Image by Stanislav Duben

Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of the 1968 sci-fi classic tells the story of an Air Force astronaut who crash lands on a planet where intelligent talking apes rule the land and enslave their human cousins. An epic conflict between humans and apes ensues, and just like the original, the final scene offers a mind-bending plot twist that sticks with you.

Paulie

paulie
Image by Filipe Frazao

This pull-at-your-heart-strings film tells the story of an intelligent blue-crowned conure named Paulie who recounts his life’s adventures to a Russian janitor at the research facility where he lives. This friendship leads to one final adventure where Paulie reunites with an old friend and leaves everyone in the audience in tears.

Free Willy 

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Image by Doptis

Long before Blackfish, there was Free Willy, a story about a 12-year-old boy who befriends Willy, an Orca who saves him from drowning at the amusement park where he’s been performing since his capture. After learning about a secret, deadly plot the boy hatches a plan to release Willy back into the wild so he can reunite with his family.

Bambi

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Pictured: [1] Image by ehtesham [2] Image by Larisa Koshkina [3] Image by Vladimir Hodac

The 1942 Disney classic tells the coming-of-age story of a young fawn hailed as the ‘Prince of the Forest.’ While learning the ways of the forest, Bambi befriends the other animals, finds love, and eventually faces down the fear of every deer, the hunter.

Jaws

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Image by Martin Prochazkacz

In this summer blockbuster from 1975, the fictional resort town of Amity Island is terrorized by a giant great white shark. The police chief enlists a shark hunter and marine biologist to hunt the shark which leads to an epic final confrontation that still terrifies audiences.

Babe

piglet-babe
Image by Volodymyr Burdiak

After Farmer Hoggett wins Babe at the county fair, the piglet is raised by a family of border collies who teach him how to herd sheep. Babe stays true to himself despite what the other farm animals think of his unconventional nature. Is he the best sheep pig of all time?

101 Dalmatians 

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Image by cynoclub

Evil fashion magnate Cruella de Vil has been kidnapping dalmatians in a deranged scheme to acquire their fur. But she chose the wrong puppies when she messed with the offspring of star-crossed lovers Perdy and Pongo, who enlist the animals of England to free all of their spotted kids.

Snakes on a Plane

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Image by Cindy Creighton

“I’VE HAD IT WITH THESE MOTHERF**KING SNAKES ON THIS MOTHERF**KING PLANE!” says FBI agent Neville Flynn played by Samuel L. Jackson. The internet loved that line more than movie itself.

Lassie

lassie
Image by Annette Shaff

Based on the classic story, this 2005 version tells the story of a family who must sell their beloved collie. The adventure follows Lassie as she makes a 500 mile trek back home to be rejoined with his family.

See all 92 images in the “Animal Stories” collection:

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