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ANIMALS

See the Funny Finalists—and Vote for Your Favorite—of the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Ellen Gutoskey
This portrait is titled “Hello everyone.”
This portrait is titled “Hello everyone.” / © Miroslav Srb / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022
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In the smartphone era, it’s pretty common to be captured on camera in the middle of an awkward moment or with an unintentionally silly expression on your face. It happens to animals, too—and their candid-camera gaffes often look surprisingly similar to ours.

Highlighting this anthropomorphic trend in goofy animal photos is sort of the whole point of The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, a project conceived in 2015 by Tanzania-based wildlife photographer Paul Joynson-Hicks and brought to life with the help of Tom Sullam and Michelle Wood. 

two gentoo penguins
Gentoo penguins in “Talk To The Fin!” / © Jennifer Hadley / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022

“To really understand animals and the issues that affect them, you need to empathize with them as fellow inhabitants of the same planet,” the organization’s website explains. In other words, seeing a moose seemingly cheesing for the camera in a way that looks strangely human might make you care a little more when you hear about how climate change is threatening the species. It’s comedy with a conservationist mission. Joynson-Hicks and his cohort team up with a different charitable organization each year; for 2022, it’s the UK-based Whitley Fund for Nature, which gives out grants to conservationists across the Global South.

smiling moose
“Shark Moose.” / © Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022

This year’s 40-photo shortlist includes some especially spectacular snapshots, from a winking fox and a flatulent zebra to a lion cub who appears to have waged war with a tree trunk and lost. 

flatulent bucking zebra
“Buck-a-roo!” / © Vince Burton / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022

There are also a number of images that scream “Relatable!” (not to mention a few in which the animals are literally just screaming). Among them are a couple of eastern screech owls that embody what it’s like to share a cramped apartment with your partner; a long-tailed macaque reflecting the face of every exhausted parent ever; and a cassowary with an uncanny resemblance to that co-worker who’s always a little too excited about what you brought for lunch.

two eastern screech owls in a tree
“Tight Fit!” / © Mark Schocken / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022
macaque parent and child
“Mum Life.” / © Sophie Hart / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022
excited cassowary near a cooler
“Your Picnic's Mine!” / © Lincoln Macgregor / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022

And we’d be remiss not to spotlight the red squirrel who’s clearly gunning to be cast in the next Marvel movie—no stunt double necessary.

red squirrel mid-air
“Jumping Jack.” / © Alex Pansier / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2022

A cross-section of leaders in entertainment, conservation, and wildlife photography will select the official winning photos—but there’s also a people’s choice award that you can vote on through November 27. Your vote will automatically enter you for a chance to win £500 (about $570).

Check out all the finalists and pick your personal favorite here.

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