Nature is dramatic, majestic … and sometimes pretty silly. The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards celebrates this lighter side of the natural world. The 2022 finalists include fighting meerkats, barfing fish, and bears who are just over it.
This young proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) in Sukau, Borneo, objects to being included.
A red squirrel appears to be perfecting its martial arts moves in this shot captured during a rainstorm in the Netherlands. The frozen-in-time droplets lend a "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" feel to this shot by photographer Alex Pansier.
It's all kicking off
A wallaby seems to swing its partner round and round in this shot by photographer Michael Eastwell. Eastwell was visiting Cape Hillsborough in Queensland, Australia, when he caught this sunrise shot of two wallabies playing or fighting on the beach.
What do you mean "smile"?! I am smiling!
Awkward school photo, anyone? This lioness at Olare Motorogi Conservancy in Kenya was yawning and making odd faces when she looked straight at Finnish photographer Alison Buttigieg's camera. Buttigieg caught the big cat's fake "smile" at the perfect moment.
Czech photographer Miroslav Srb ran across this friendly raccoon on a Florida beach. He fed it shrimp. It waved at him. It was cute. (But fair warning: Feeding wild raccoons is not advisable, as the animals can carry rabies.)
A gray triggerfish (Ballistes capriscus) hams it up for the camera off the island of Faial in the Azores — sort of. In fact, according to Spanish photographer Arturo Telle Thiemann, these fish are somewhat aggressive. "In this case, they didn't attempt to bite me, but the domeport of my camera housing ended up with some scratches," Thiemann said in a statement.
Not so cat-like reflexes
A 3-month-old lion cub crash-lands as it tries to get out of a tree in the Serengeti of Tanzania. The little lion spent some time looking for the right spot for a dismount, U.S. photographer Jennifer Hadley said in a statement; but it was probably his first time in a tree, and the landing didn't go so well. "He was just fine though after landing on the ground," Hadley said. "He got up and ran off with some other cubs."
Vince Burton of the U.K. caught this zebra kicking up its heels in Kenya.
I'm gonna strangle you!
South African photographer Emmanuel Do Linh San observed these roughhousing meerkats at South Africa's Kalahari Trails game reserve. "In the photo that I have selected, there is no aggression between individuals, but rather an interaction that reminds us of humans when one of your friends jokes about you and you pretend to strangle them, and in response, they open their mouth like a simpleton," he said.
Excuse me ... Pardon me!
A duckling uses a turtle-lined log as a bridge at Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland, Washington. "[T]he duckling fell off after a few turtle crossings, it was cute," photographer Ryan Sims said in a statement.
I see you!
An owlet peeps out of a pipe in Bikaner, India. Photographer Arshdeep Singh captured this shot on the last day of a wildlife photography trip. "It was really funny when he came out and looked at me straight," Singh said in a statement. When the owl closed one eye, Singh caught the skeptical look on camera.
"Whoa, whoa, wait!" A swan seems to be chasing down a taxicab in this shot from Maksimir Park in Zagreb, Croatia. According to photographer Bojan Bencic, the swan was in a tussle with another swan in the park and was chasing it across a frozen pond.
Your picnic's mine!
"OK, OK — you can have the cooler." This cassowary got its way one day in Etty Bay in Queensland, Australia, when it plopped down on a picnic blanket and scared away the human picnickers. "Armed with dagger-like claws and often being territorial and aggressive towards intruders, cassowaries command respect, and most people keep a safe distance from them," photographer Lincoln Macgregor said in a statement. "I spent several days photographing and documenting their behaviour at Etty Bay, where these wild birds regularly come into contact with humans and have become comfortable approaching people."
Don't let the goofy look on this bull moose's face fool you. Male moose can weigh up to 1,400 pounds (635 kilograms) and stand 6 feet (1.8 meters) at the shoulder, according to the New York State Conservationist. Is this one smiling or getting ready to attack? Maybe don't stick around to find out.
Misleading African viewpoints
In this photo from South Africa's Kruger National Park, a trick of perspective makes it look like the heron (standing on the back of a hippo) is about to become a bite-size snack for a yawning hippo.
Monkey moms have those moments, too. A baby long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) clings to its mother, who seems to be wishing for a spa day.
A black bear cub makes a dramatic flourish in this photograph taken in Wisconsin. The little bear was having a blast playing with a stick, according to photographer Dave Shaffer.
Photographer Lee Zhengxing of China encountered this little squirrel while climbing a mountain in Zhuque National Forest Park. Instead of fleeing, the squirrel paused on the edge of the cliff and kept staring at the intruders.
You can't see me, can you?
A little owl plays hide-and-seek with photographer Lukas Zeman in Senoklass, Bulgaria. The owl was perched in the chimney of an old, collapsed house.
A guillemot seeks a safe landing in the U.K.'s Farne Islands. "The Guillemots were arriving with fish for their young and seemed to just dive into the middle of the horde of young ones," photographer Corinne Kozok said in a statement.
Keep calm and keep your head
"Um… you seem to be missing something." A king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) ponders its seemingly headless comrade at Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands.
Bears fishing for salmon in Alaska sometimes make the job look effortless, snapping fish out of the current with ease. And sometimes, it's not so simple. "This salmon decided to punch the bear in the face rather than be lunch," said photographer John Chaney.
Dutch photographer Paul Eijkemans caught this Picasso triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) vomiting up coral residues in Marsa Shagra, Egypt.
A Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) plays with a pine cone in Ontario, Canada.
Too much sun
A brown bear (Ursus arctos beringianus) gets all tuckered out at Kurile Lake in Kamchatka, Russia. This brown bear subspecies is found only on the Kamchatka Peninsula and nearby islands. Italian photographer Paolo Mignosa captured this photo of the bear and several others playing near a river.
Gotta scratch that itch
A ground squirrel scratches an itch at Merced National Wildlife Refuge in California. Photographer Kevin Lohman caught a series of this squirrel scratching from its head to its back.