This week, David Attenborough’s new Netflix documentary Our Planet has created another of these symbols: a walrus falling off a cliff, a behaviour the animal has learned in response to the pressures of climate change.

Tragically, it’s often images of animals’ pain and suffering that spark the biggest reaction from viewers — but it’s also these images that are making people pay attention to the changes that they can make in their own lives and call for action from world leaders.

These are five of the most iconic animals affected by climate change whose suffering has inspired action.

  1. The Our Planet walruses The group of more than 100,000 walruses are forced to gather on the beach “out of desperation” — because their sea ice habitat has moved to the north, pushing them to seek solid land instead — according to Attenborough. Once on land, the walruses climb up an 80 metre cliff looking for a “space of rest.”
  2. The Blue Planet II whale The shock sparked among viewers by the already infamous walrus scene is reminiscent of the mother pilot whale grieving her dead newborn, that featured in the fourth episode of Blue Planet II in November 2017.
  3. The starving polar bear  In December 2017, a video of a starving polar bear went viral, with millions of people watching it over just a few days.
  4. The seahorse with a cotton bud  The photograph, taken near the town of Sumbawa Besar, in Borneo, shows a seahorse floating with its tail tightly wrapped around a cotton bud.
  5. Rang-tan and palm oil Although technically not a real orangutan, the character Rang-tan hit headlines after the animated creature was featured in a short film released by Greenpeace, and used by supermarket Iceland as part of its Christmas ad campaign.

Read the full article about animals that have become symbols by Imogen Calderwood at Global Citizen.