African elephant and whitebacked vultures by a waterhole


The animal kingdom is estimated to contain about 10 million species. The defining characteristics of an animal include the fact that it is a multicellular organism, that its cell walls are not rigid and that it gets its food by eating other living things, rather than by processes such as photosynthesis. Animals can range from being tiny creatures which are only a collection of a few cells, to giants like the blue whale.

Scientific name: animalia

Rank: Kingdom

Common names:

  • Animalia,
  • Metazoa

Watch video clips from past programmes (15 clips)

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Map showing the distribution of the Animals taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

Animal size range

A graphic illustration of animal size in relation to humans, from largest to smallest: blue whale, Diplodocus, Tyrannosaurus re

A comparison of large animal sizes in relation to humans - from the 30m long blue whale to the 5m American crocodile.

Download a poster of the animal kingdom in .pdf format to print out and keep. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.


  1. Life
  2. Animals

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.