Attenborough: ‘Nature is full of wonder’

Invader: The film follows animals who took over empty human spaces during lockdowns.

Is nature making a comeback? A new David Attenborough documentary looks at how the pandemic and lockdowns helped the natural world recover. Its message is all about hope for the future.

What’s happening

A group of penguins walks along a city street. A leopard strolls into a safari lodge. A monkey sits on top of a hand sanitiser pump.

These are just three scenes from a new TV programme that shows what happens in nature when humans stay at home.

Find out more

The Year the Earth Changed was made during the pandemic. It was released on Friday to celebrate Earth Day, which takes place later this week.

The film is narrated by Sir David Attenborough. He describes how lockdowns reduce pollution. In one Indian city, the Himalayas are visible after 30 years of smog.

On the other side of the world in Alaska, people are happy to hear humpback whales under the ice again. Up until now, the sound of big ships have drowned them out.

The film also shows how lockdowns made animals bolder. In Argentina, shy wild capybaras arrive in city gardens. In Florida, turtles lay eggs on empty beaches. In Cape Town, penguins waddle through the empty streets.

Is nature making a comeback?

Some say…

Yes! The film is the perfect proof that nature is coming back. During lockdowns, travel bans made skies clearer. Roads were safer for wild animals to cross. Carbon dioxide pollution went down. Wild animals and plants finally had a chance to fight back.

Others think…

Not necessarily. This film shows us that nature can only return if we change. We should use this time as a lesson. We should fly less and only travel when we need to. And we should work to make our impact on the world smaller. Nature can make a comeback. But it needs our help.

You Decide

  1. What was the biggest change to your life during the last year?


  1. Write a story about a South African penguin who spends a day sightseeing in Cape Town.

Some People Say...

“During this most difficult year, many people have reappraised the value and beauty of the natural world and taken great comfort from it.”

Sir David Attenborough (1926 – ), British broadcaster and conservationist

What do you think?

Word Watch

Safari lodge
A safari is a trip to look for animals in their natural habitats. In safari parks, visitors can stay in hotels called lodges.
Earth Day
A day celebrated every year on 22 April to support the protection of the environment.
To narrate is to tell a story. When someone speaks along with a film or TV show, they are the narrator.
Sir David Attenborough
David Attenborough has been interested in natural history since he was a young boy. He has presented dozens of TV programmes about the natural world.
When gases, smoke and chemicals are introduced into the environment in large doses, making it harmful for humans, animals and plants.
A mountain range in Nepal, China, India and Bhutan. They are home to the world’s highest mountains.
A heavy fog made from polluted air.
The largest state in the USA. It has the most glaciers in the country and is home to polar bears, walruses and whales.
A country in South America. Its name is a Spanish word meaning Land of Silver.
The largest rodents in the world. They live in Central and South America and like living near water.
Cape Town
The capital of South Africa. It is on the coast and penguins usually live on the beaches but stay outside the city.


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