55 Hilarious Wildlife Photos That Will Make You An Animal Person
Put 'em up
Many wildlife photos offer a somber look at the great outdoors. The animals are pensive, thoughtful, and earnest. That's not what you're going to see here today. These hilarious and candid wildlife photos prove that animals can be just as goofy as humans when they think they're not being watched.
In this collection of delightful photos we've got monkeys going ape, sharks showing a softer side, and squirrels a plenty getting up to all manner of hijinks. Each of these photos was a finalist in the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and it's clear that not only do the following photographers have an eye for what makes a good photo, but they know what's funny as well.
We don't normally think of prairie dogs as an animal that can put up a fight against an apex predator, but this photo shows that given the chance one of these tiny little creatures will stick up its dukes even if it's just to buy itself some time to make a clean escape.
Photographer Arthur Trevino explains that he only managed to catch this photo after the Bald Eagle completely failed at nabbing its prairie dog dinner:
When this Bald Eagle missed on its attempt to grab this prairie dog, the prairie dog jumped towards the eagle and startled it long enough to escape to a nearby burrow. A real David vs Goliath story!
This photo was taken by Roie Galitz, one of the most decorated modern wildlife photographers - and this is just one of his amazing snapshots of animals in their natural habitat. While speaking about his love of photography, Galitz stopped to say that the reason his photos are so engrossing and personal is because he loves what he does. He explained:
I love nature and wildlife. I always have. Something that I truly believe in life, is to go where your advantages become your tools of trade. I’m very good technically, but I’m not that good at one-on-one interaction. So I will never be as good at portrait photography as the amazing masters… But in wildlife photography – that’s a field in which I can truly stand out. Where your passion meets your talent – that’s the place you want to be.
It takes two to tango
Bears are incredibly fascinating creatures. On one hand they're apex predators that roam the forests eating pretty much whatever they want, and on the other they're fun loving little weirdos who dance with each other when they think they're alone.
A Finnish teacher and photographer, Valtteri Mulkahainen, caught a trio of dancing bears and he describes the scene as magical:
I hid and watched to see what they would do. The cubs played among themselves like little children. They stood in a circle and began to push each other, stamping their feet, it was like dancing in a circle. They stood there for about half a minute, pushing and shoving. Then they started fighting and all were in one pile on the ground.
Show us a smile
Found among the reefs and rocky coasts of the Indo-Pacific, parrot fish are named as such because of their bright colors and beak-like mouths. They don't naturally smile like the fish in this photo, which is what makes it all the more interesting.
Photographer Arthur Telle Thiemenn explained the perseverance it took to snap this perfect shot:
Parrot fish from El Hierro, Canary Islands... among a group of parrot fish I saw this one, with a crooked mouth, looking like it was smiling. I don't know if it was caused by a fishing hook, or just something hard that it tried to bite. I concentrated on it, and it took me several minutes until I got this frontal shot... and yes, it made my day!
Welp, summer's over
Birds are often seen as graceful creatures that move through he air on wings lighter than the breeze, but this shot proves that sometimes there's an indignity to being a former dinosaur. This is one of those perfect photos that we so rarely see, and it's so lucky that this guy was able to snap it.
No one expects to take a hilarious photo like this, but sometimes everything just lines up perfectly before you close the shutter. While speaking with Spectrum Photo, photographer John Spiers noted:
I was taking pics of pigeons in flight when this leaf landed on the bird's face.
Man or astroman? 🐵
This cute little guy is a Japanese macaques, a species of monkey who lives north of Japan's main island, Honshu. These macaques are well adapted to living in cold climates thanks to their thick coats and their small diet of bark and pine leaves, which they need to eat a regular intervals to make sure they can keep their bodies warm in the subzero temperatures.
Beginning in 1963, a female macaques started visiting a to spring and the other macaques followed suit. This began a generational tradition of hanging out in a hot spring during the coldest of winter months. It's pretty cool to know that whether you're a primate or a human it's nice to chill out in a hot tub.
Time for school
Even in the animal kingdom mothers are known for taking care of their young - even if they don't necessarily want to be taken care of. This perfectly timed photo of a smooth-coated otter dragging its baby around the water shows how these animals train their children to swim, it just happens to look like she's pulling his entire head off.
Snapping a photo like this can't be easy. You'd have to wait until the perfect moment to snag this mother grabbing her child by the scruff of its neck and giving it what for. It's fascinating to see an animal act like a human mother and making sure that her child is behaving.
The joy of a mud bath
Is there anything better than just letting loose and rolling around in the mud? For an elephant? No way. Taken on the shore of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, this snapshot shows an elephant really enjoying itself. As gross as this might look, it's actually something that these animals really love.
Not only do elephants just enjoy cooling off this way, but they roll around in the mud so they can protect themselves from the heat and rub any bug bites that they may have. More often than not elephants will bathe together so they can make sure they take care of hard to reach spaces.
That's gonna leave a mark 🐵
Woof! Is anyone else in pain right now? Golden Silk Monkeys like this are found in the mountainous forest regions of China where they live in large groups, often sleeping in clusters inside trees.
According to photographer Ken Jensen this isn't actually a snapshot of a monkey totally wracking himself, but rather an act of aggression. This photo won the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Award, something that Jensen never expected. He told Newsweek:
I was absolutely overwhelmed to learn that my entry had won. Especially when there were quite a number of wonderful photos entered. The publicity that my image has received over the last few months has been incredible, it is such a great feeling to know that one's image is making people smile globally as well as helping to support some fantastically worthwhile conservation causes.
Jean Claude Van Squirrel
Dutch-Swedish photographer Geert Weggen is a master of snapping the perfect photo of an animal in the wild, and he has a knack for getting the perfect shot of a squirrel. While speaking with My Modern Met about his work he explained that getting this kind of shot not only takes talent and patience, but one more important element. He said:
Food. Mostly it is about that. If I did not have food they would not come. Although different birds and squirrels follow me, climb on me, and visit me in my house. They would not do that if there was nothing to gain. We use each other and we share each other.
Let's dance 💃
Prairie dogs seriously are some of the cutest animals out there. Not only do they dig around the ground and move from hole to hole, but they perform "dances" on a regular basis that are both adorable and somewhat confounding. We're actually not sure what they're up to with all that moving and shaking.
When prairie dogs are chattering and jumping around it can look like a dance performed for an audience of none. Researchers believe that prairie dogs perform this little routine as a way to either warn other prairie dogs away from their territories or to signal that a predator has left the area.
He who jumps the highest
Mudskippers are absolutely wild. These amphibious creatures may look like bottom feeding swimmers, but in fact they don't need to swim at all if they don't want to. These creatures use their large pectoral fins to help them "skip" out of the water and somewhat walk around the lagoons and mud flats that they call home.
If you're looking to get your own super cool snapshot of one of these creatures you can do so pretty much anywhere in the south eastern hemisphere, but especially in the swamps and lagoons of Japan, the Philippines, and the Indo-pacific. Just watch where you step.
The majestic, the graceful, the American Bald Eagle
Photographer David Eppley notes that while this eagle does look pretty dorky, it was hard at work on its nest all day:
Bald Eagles will use the same nest for years, even decades, adding new material to it at the beginning and throughout the nesting season. Normally, they are highly skilled at snapping branches off of trees while in flight. Possibly tired from working nonstop all morning on a new nest, this particular Bald Eagle wasn't showing its best form. Yes, sometimes they miss. Although this looks painful, and it might very well be, the eagle recovers with just a few sweeping wing strokes, and choses to rest a bit before making another lumber run.
To be or not to be 🐵
As we've seen time and time again monkeys have a knack for doing something incredibly human, whether it's hanging out in a hot tub or moving their arms and hands with gestures similar to our own, but now researchers have found that monkeys enjoy music and there's no going back. Researchers initially found that human music doesn't really do anything for monkeys, so they made special "monkey music" for the primates and they're absolute bops. The authors of a paper by the Royal Society journal Biology Letters wrote:
The emotional components of music and animal calls might be very similar, and from an evolutionary perspective, we are finding that the note patterns, dissonance and timing are important for communicating affective states in both animals and people.
Pssst... do you want to eat garbage tonight?
Depending on how you feel about raccoons you either think that they're incredibly cute little city bears or that they're trash pandas who would eat the bottom off a barrel to get to some uneaten fast food. This snapshot that shows the little rascals chatting with one another is fascinating, not only because it's rare that we see them speaking with one another, but because they're being so polite about it.
It's most likely that these whispering raccoons are "chittering," which is a sound you'll hear from young raccoons who are either looking for their mothers or when they're just making small talk. It depends on the season, but these fellows could be talking about anything from food, to shelter, to grooming.
Treehugger (and kisser)
Proboscis monkeys are easily the weirdest looking creatures in the animal kingdom, but this photo proves that they're also some of the weirdest acting animals around. We're not entirely sure what this guy is doing, but whatever it is he really loves that tree. Found mostly in Borneo, these monkeys are a protected animal thanks to their dwindling numbers.
Photographer Jakub Hodan spoke about this well timed photo and he admitted that he's not entirely sure what going on here:
This Proboscis monkey could be just scratching its nose on the rough bark, or it could be kissing it. Trees play a big role in the lives of monkeys. Who are we to judge...
What are you lookin' at? 🦉
There's always going to be some kind of trick to snapping a shot of an animal, be it in on the fly or in a studio. Animal portrait photographer Brad Wilson tells My Modern Met about the tricky intricacies of getting the perfect shot of an animal:
Access to the animals is the first big hurdle and requires a great deal of time, planning, and expense to properly arrange. Also, the lack of verbal communication on the shoots is especially difficult—you can't tell a tiger to 'sit' and look at the camera. The animals do pretty much what they want to do (within limits) and I have to find a way to get the image I want without directing them. In addition, since the animals are more wild than tame, there is a level of physical danger involved as well. Everything is done to mitigate this, but it still exists on some level.
That's a miss
Western Grey Kangaroos are definitely exciting animals but that doesn't make them inherently graceful. This photo by Lea Scaddan shows two 'roos going at it, with one kangaroo completely missing a kick. As cute as these animals are they're also extremely aggressive. Kangaroos fight with one another to assert their dominance, and it's clear from this snapshot that one of these big guys is never going to be top dog.
One of the most common forms of kangaroo found in Australia, these hoppy boys are all over west Western Australia, from New South Wales to Queensland. When watching them make sure you keep a safe distance because they will womp you without thinking twice.
How do you open this thing?
Raccoons are creepy, don't you think? This curious little guy just wants to get inside a house and, if we have to guess, steal a bunch of food and ransack the place. These little creatures are all the United States, from woodland areas to the middle of major cities which is why they're so comfortable strolling up to a house and trying to break in.
It's not clear if photographer Nicolas de Vaulx lives in this house or if he was just out on a late evening walkabout and captured the crime in progress, but something tells us that he doesn't have to go far to find raccoon action like this.
May I have this dance?
These little Kamchatka brown bears are nowhere near the size that they'll grow to when they reach adulthood, which is why it's so cute to see them horsing around like this. These bad boys will grow up to be some of the biggest bears in Eurasia, weighing in at just over 1,400 pounds.
Like most bears, kamchatka brown bears are territorial and they don't love it when people stalk their kids. Photographer Andy Parkinson must have been brave to grab this snapshot that he describes as:
Two Kamchatka bear cubs square up for a celebratory play fight having successfully navigated a raging torrent (small stream!).
Bear? What bear?
This may look like a young bear playing peekaboo or testing its object permanence, but it's actually just making its way down a tree. That's right, bears are great climbers - even Grizzlies. Bears are talented at climbing trees thanks to their claws, which can grow to about two inches in length. The curve and length of their claws allows them to really dig into some bark and not let go, which is why you should never try to climb a tree if you're running away from one of these fuzzy guys. If you do, you'll be as good as lunch.
Gophers spend most of their lives underground so it's rare that they'd be running around the grass and tossing each other around, but sometimes a photographer gets lucky and captures a moment that's just magical. Aside from living a fossorial life, gophers also keep to themselves, which means that these two fellows are a rare breed of gopher that likes to ham it up with one another in between their day to day lives filled with munching on roots and tubers.
These tiny little rodents spend most of their days building shallow tunnels for foraging, nesting, and traveling to Albuquerque via Cucamonga, so it's nice that these two took a break to get in some playtime.
Terry the Turtle lets the photographer know what he thinks
Turtles are majestic creatures that move slowly on land but cruise underwater. They live extremely long lives - anywhere from 40 years to 100 years depending on the breed - and seem to be pretty chill all around which makes this photo all the more interesting. What do you say to a sweet turtle like this to get it so cheesed off? How does one even get a shot like this? Photographer Mark Fitzpatrick explained that he was simply swimming beneath the waves with his camera when he got a little too close for comfort to this turtle. Personal space matters, folks.
There's nothing harder than waking up
We've established just how weird raccoons can be over the course of a few photos, but this guy takes the cake. It's genuinely fascinating to see how similar to people raccoons can be, complete with a morning wake up routine that includes a big ol' stretch. A this point it wouldn't surprise us if raccoons starting making their morning coffee in a french press. Or maybe an adorable little trash can.
Photographer Charlie Davidson explained that he snapped this photo one morning, completely expecting to see a raccoon because so many of them take up space in this tree:
The raccoon was just waking up and stretching. We have a raccoon in this tree every so often, sometimes for a night and sometimes for a month.
Hide and seek
Azure damselflies are sort of like European cousins to American dragonflies. They have a distinctive blue and black colorization and they're found primarily near standing water. Photographer Tim Hearn explained how he captured such a perfect photo of this goofy looking insect:
As this Azure damselfly slowly woke up, he became aware of my presence. I was lined up to take a profile picture of his wings and body, but quite sensibly the damsel reacted to the human with the camera by putting the Marsh grass stem between me and it. I took the shot anyway. It was only later that I realized how characterful it was. And how much the damselfly looks like one of the muppets.
O sole mio
We're not quite sure what this animal is. Maybe it's a squirrel or a chipmunk, possibly a prairie dog orr some mix of all three that we don't know about. It's a real head scratcher. If you're an amateur zoologist feel free to sound off in the comments to set us straight. The one thing we do know about this creature is that it's incredibly cute. Taken by Krànitz Roland, this is the kind of photo you want to blow up into a poster and hang it on your wall to help remind you to take it easy or hang in there.
I've got you this time
This photo of a lion cub hunting its sibling from a large termite nest may look like play, but it's actually an important part of a lion's lifecycle. Cubs tend to start learning how to hunt when they're only six weeks old by watching their mothers and the elders of their pride. Their "play" often takes the form of stalking or "hunting" their brothers and sisters until they're just over a year old and able to actually hunt for themselves alongside their family. It's incredible to think that lion cubs learn from their behavior in the same way that humans learn from their elders.
Silent but deadly
Bears sure are weird. We often think of bears as giant creatures that stalk the woods, eating their prey and chasing unsuspecting campers up trees of various size, but they also just like to hang out and relax. During a bear's hibernation period it's not strange for them to get up for a bit and walk around before going back to sleep. Sometimes they find a bunch of food, other times they just continue their mini-hibernation out on some rocks before going back to their main hibernation. No job, nothing to do but eat and sleep. Gosh it must be nice to be a bear.
One tough negotiation
Photographer Ayala Fishaimer tells the fascinating story of how she snapped this truly harrowing photo:
I came across a foxes den while I was traveling, looking for some nature, in the nearby fields. I spent an entire magical morning with 4 cute fox cubs. At some point I noticed that one of the cubs start sniffing around, and a seconds after, he pulled this shrew (which he probably hid there earlier) out of the sand and started playing with it. after a while, the fox cub stood on the stone and threw the shrew in the air... the shrew landed in such a way that it seemed as if they were having a conversation, and he is asking the fox 'Please don't kill me It's actually reminded me of a Scene from 'The Gruffalo' story.
Wildlife photographer Dan Zafra has a lot of experience shooting bears - with his camera that is. While speaking with My Modern Met he explained that patience is the number one key to getting that great photo of a bear that you've always wanted:
I learned how important it is to observe and be patient. It sounds cliché for any wildlife photography, but especially with bears; you never know when a bear can wake up from his ‘siesta' and plunge into the river to catch the salmon. You might see this just a few times during the tour if you're lucky, so it's very important to keep your eyes wide open and to be ready to shoot!
Sharing is caring 🐟🐟🐟
These cute little puffins are amazing creatures. Not only do they look like penguins with painted on eyes, they also have cartoonish multi-colored bills that looks like they're straight off a cereal box. Known as the clown of the sea, Atlantic puffins breed in the North Atlantic, off the shores of western Greenland, but they leave all over the area from the shores of eastern Canada down to the tip of Maine. "Pufflings," or baby puffins, can take several years to mature with the oldest living Puffin recorded at 41 years of age. It's likely that some puffins live longer than their 40s but no record of this exist because researching bands that last longer than 40 years have only recently come into use.
I swear I was working late!
Southern Elephant seals are some of the biggest seals in the world, with males coming in at a whopping four tons. Referred to as elephant seals because of their size, and for the literal trunk that males have which is generally used to impress females and intimidate other males, these big animals tend to be found around Antarctica.
As gruesome as these animals may seem, they're actually pretty friendly to be around when they're not in mating seasons. For most of the year they just hang around in "pods," eating squid and lounging around on one another. That's not a bad way to live.
Monkey business 🐵🐵
Pig-Tailed Macaques are all over there southern regions of Asia, often in large groups of about 40 primates that travel through the forrest in a kind of rambling collection of goofballs that get up to nonsense. And they're clearly libidinous beyond measure. It's not really the kind of thing that we would ever want to roll up on, but that's us.
While discussing this award winning snapshot photographer Megan Lorenz stated:
While on a trip to Borneo, I had many opportunities to watch monkeys interacting with each other. These Pig-Tailed Macaques showed me a bit more than I bargained for! Don't blame me...I just take the photos, I can't control the wildlife!
This shot of two birds preening one another is kind of the perfect funny nature photo. On one hand we're able to see animals acting they way they would in the wild without anyone around them, and on the other hand we're able to anthropomorphize the animals. It's a classic win-win scenario. Photographer Petr Sochman explained as much in his submission to the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photo contest:
This photo from January 2020 is the beginning of a scene which lasted approximately one minute and in which each of the birds used a foot to clean the partner's beak. While the whole scene was very informative, this first photo with the male already holding his foot high in the air was just asking to be taken out of the context...
He's a mocking bird
The juxtaposition of this Kingfisher with its catch perched on the No Fishing sign is just too hard to pass up. Kingfishers only way about 40 grams, and with the amount that they fly throughout the day they have to eat quite a bit, so it's not necessarily luck that helped snap this photo, it was diligence. Photographer Sally Lloyd-Jones says as much:
I was hoping a Kingfisher would land on the "No Fishing" sign but I was over the moon when it landed for several seconds with a fish. It then flew off with its catch. It appeared to be mocking the person who erected the sign!
Sun salutation ☀️
Why didn't anyone tell us that sea lions can sleep underwater? This new piece of information easily pushes them up the list of our favorite animals, it's still mind boggling to see something like his. We have so many questions: Is this comfortable? If so, is it better than sleeping on dry land? According to SF Gate, sea lions can stay underwater for days at a time so it's not out of the question for one of these big boys to catch a cat nap in a puddle for a couple of hours. Still, there seems to be something extra zen about this sea lion that makes us smile.
The family that plays together stays together
Photographer Thomas Vijayan explains that capturing this photo of langur monkeys at play took more than pointing and shooting, it took some serious patience:
Shooting the most common is the most challenging thing. Langurs are very common but waiting for a right movement is very challenging and needs lots of patience. Photography is not about quantity I consider it more of a quality and a story telling frame which can put a smile in someone’s heart. In 2014 I had made 15 trips to India in search of a perfect frame out of these trips, in one of the trip I could only get this frame and I am more than happy with this picture - A playful monkey with its family is a special frame for me.
Smiling blue shark
It's terrifying to think about hopping in the water to get a good picture of a shark, one of the most aggressive animals in the wild. Shark Photographer Michael Muller explains that the trick to getting a good shark photo is to be patient and not expect the animal to "perform" the way you want:
When I’m dealing with a human, I can communicate. I can say, 'Hey, turn here. Do this. Jump.' I can direct. With animals I don’t have that ability to direct, but I can direct them by where I put the lights, where we feed them. It’s more of a documentary process… and there’s no guarantee that sharks are going to be there. I’ve flown all the way to Africa and gotten skunked for a week with a film crew and my assistants.
The great race
Imagine the scene: you're walking around India with some friends and you come upon a group of langur monkeys hijacking a bunch of bicycles. What do you do? If you're photographer Yevhen Samuchenko you start snapping photos before you scare the monkeys away. They explained:
My friends and I walked in the center of the small town of Hampi in India. There was a bicycle parking nearby. Suddenly a flock of langurs jumped on these bicycles and began to frolic. We were afraid to frighten them away, I started taking pictures from afar, but then we came very close to them and the langurs continued to play with bicycles.
Grab life by the tail
How is this lion cub going to learn not to mess with his dad if it doesn't completely annoy the heck out of him and catch a paw to the head? Sure, the cub could observe that kind of behavior, but would that get the lesson into its little brain? Probably not. Cubs spend their early lives learning how to hunt, communicate, and act like a real grown up lion by horsing around with their brothers and sisters. It's not until later in life that they're actually expected to pull their weight, so why not have a little fun at the expense of dad?
A family disagreement
These incredibly colorful birds are known as "Bee-Eaters" because of their insect specific diet. Found mostly in Asia and Africa, these birds are known for munching on bees and wasps that have the poor luck of flying near where one of these birds is perched. Unfortunately these birds prefer the dwindling honeybees to the more abundant insects in the wild.
To avoid eating a stinger or being poisoned, these birds smash their prey against a tree branch until the stinger is removed and most of the poison is squeezed out of the body. Who knew that such beautiful birds would be so brutal?
Oh no oh my
Otters may look like cute, cuddly little sweethearts, but they're actually mean little monsters that should be avoided at all cost (unless you're a photographer looking to snap a super cute pic). Sea otters may behave with people, but when they're around other animals they can be absolutely atrocious.
They're known to go on killing sprees of different types of animals that get in their way, especially preferring young victims over full size adult creatures. This is just one of the many horrible things that sea otters get up to, so think about that the next time you find yourself on Otter-Tok.
First comes love and then comes marriage
So this is actually incredibly cute even if it's not really how prairie dogs go about populating their species. Prairie dogs operate on a harem-polygynous mating system, which means that the dominant male of the group mates with multiple females through the season. Prairie dog coteries, or groups, can have a hierarchy of dominant males so they're not fully inbred, but they're still sharing some blood relation among them. This actually goes both ways, as female prairie dogs will mate with two or more dominant males within a given season. That doesn't mean they can't get married through, after all polycules are all the rage these days.
Marking your territory
This poor egret was caught getting absolutely blasted by a rhino when it stood in the wrong place at the wrong time, but how was it supposed to know that was going to happen? This unfortunate moment was snapped by photographer Nagaraj Tilakraj from Narobi, who saw the whole thing happen while on a trip with their family.
Rhinos are able to spray backwards thanks to their curved member that can shoot up to 16 feet, something that they do to impress potential mates. The reason that this egret is so close to the massive rhino is because they have a symbiotic relationship. Egrets ride the back of a rhino to munch on bugs and ticks that feast on their big gray friends.
Anybody want a peanut? 🥜
If there's one thing that everyone knows about squirrels it's that they hide snacks in trees for winter, but that's not entirely the case. Squirrels have what is called "scatter hoarder" behavior which means that they have stashes of nuts and food of different size all over their individual territory. In some cases, squirrels bury their nuts right under the tree where they find them, but in other cases they take the nuts to a different hiding place where they feel comfortable letting the nuts hang out for a little while. There's little method to their madness, leaving squirrels to be about as random as you can get.
This perfectly timed shot may be one of the most majestic photos we've ever seen, which is saying something for its subject. Squirrels don't often inspire awe in us, but everything about this photo is absolutely breathtaking. Don't get too attached to this little guy, American red squirrels are known more as menaces than they are as daydreamers. They raid bird-feeders and regularly o to battle with gray squirrels in spite of the fact that they're outsized by their cousins. Aside from marking their territory and making what we're sure is an adorable chirping sound to ward off invaders, these little guys love to fight.
Oh heck yeah, there's nothing like a good chest bump with a bro to start your day off right. Only in the case of this penguin and sea lion they're more foes than bros. Even though sea lions tend to feed on fish and smaller mammals they rarely stop themselves from feasting on some tasty sweet penguin meat.
This isn't just a one time getting into a scuffle thing either, sea lions have been known to snap penguins out of the water in order to make them into a tasty meal, which works just as well as dragging themselves on land to do battle with a tuxedo man before getting a bite of dinner.
It can't be easy to snap a photo of an animal as massive and aggressive as a rhinoceros. According to photographer Justin Mott the "trick" to getting these photos is to make sure you don't seem like a threat:
I spend a lot of time researching and communicating with the subjects that I’m planning on featuring. I like to earn my space before the shoot by being clear about what I’m after and again when I arrive. Even if they agree ahead of time, not everyone is comfortable from the start, so I ease into it depending on their body language, both for people and animals. Getting close is an ethical responsibility as well: I need to make sure it’s safe for the animals, safe for me, and that it makes sense for the story. If a caretaker must hand feed the gibbons as infants to rehabilitate them back into the wild, it makes sense for the caretaker to get close, but I must contextualize that.
Deer? What deer?
Deer are already pretty good at hiding themselves in the forest, they're practically bred to survive right out in the open, but this is retaking things a shade too far. Even though this leaf work looks incidental, judging from other camouflaged run-ins with deer this might actually a normal thing for some male deer. Nicolas Le Boulanger, who saw a similar thing in France in 2015 noted:
His camouflage worked and he surprised a lot me. I saw the ferns advance on me, but I had no idea it was a deer until it moved closer and I saw its eyes. I believe we both surprised each other that day when it realized it had been discovered.
Now this is one cool monkey, just kicking back and hanging out with his parents. We'd like to be like this monkey some day, that's how cool he is. If this monkey seems a little extra human to you that's because, well, he is.
Researchers at UCLA have discovered that human, chimpanzee and bonobo babies all make similar gestures when they're with their caregivers. Specifically, they all reach out with their arms and hands for objects or people and they point with the fingers when they want something. The researchers believe that these shared gestures can be traced to the last shared ancestor between all three animals, who was around about four million years ago.
That's not how you fox trot
They may be incredibly wild animals, but foxes exhibit behavior that's incredibly close to dogs. Foxes live in large social groups made of a breeding parents and their offspring, and many times a social hierarchy springs up within the group that creates a kind of pecking order that leads to either social harmony or a lot of in-fighting.
The pecking order can begin as early as one week old, with cubs fighting amongst one another for some of their mother's milk. Bristol University behaviorist Sandra Alvarez-Betancourt says that aggression is actually the first social interaction that fox cubs imitate. By two weeks old a hierarchy has already been determined by the animals.
Nothing to see here
This naughty little penguin is just doing what nature intended him to do, not in private like we might, but he's doing it all the same. These "tuxedo" wearing birds tend to live on oceans and coasts, with many penguin clans position up on islands with as few land predators as possible. Many penguins will spend months at sea simply because they can.
Primarily living in the Southern Hemisphere, they can be found all over from the tip of South America to Australia and New Zealand. The one penguin that you can actually find north of the equator is the Galápagos penguin, who we're sure is much more well behaved than the fellow in this photo.
Surfing, south Atlantic style 🏄
Yes folks, what we've got here is a surfing penguin. The Gentoo penguins of Bleaker Island in the Falklands has been known to catch waves just off the coast, they can even catch some pretty solid air when they want to. Photographer Elmar Weiss told the Caters news agency:
The penguins obviously look like they are surfing without doubt, it reminded me of the animated film Surf’s Up. It’s amazing to see how skillful they are, they seem to enjoy to playing in the waves. On a ‘frozen’ photo, taken in the right moment, you can see all the details and you can detect things – like that penguins are great surfers, they’re surfing South Atlantic style. Even though your own eyes, you can see the penguin jumping... It is really challenging to get a penguin in flight or ‘surfing‘ because you can’t see penguins while they dive.
Caught in the act
Squirrels are super weird. Aside from running around and hiding nuts or chasing each other around all the time they don't seem to have much of a personal life. Even though squirrels are fairly territorial they still come together to chase each other around but it's not clear why.
As ridiculous as it sounds, people actually study the squirrel behavior to learn what these little weirdoes get up to during the day. Michael Steele of Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, a student of squirrel behavior explains:
Eastern gray squirrels are not territorial but do form dominance hierarchies in which they establish dominance over each other. Establishing dominance involves aggression and chasing.
This coastal brown bear cub is over it
Aside from being little dancing fur men, bears are known for being fairly mischievous little scamps - especially when food enters the equation. For instance, the brown bear cub who found his way into an excessive amount of "mad honey" in northwestern Turkey’s Duzce province which is believed to have hallucinogenic effects. That's right, this bear was straight trippin'.
Mad honey, or “deli bal” in Turkish is produced in very small quantities by beekeepers in the Kaçkar mountains above the Black Sea. Eating a spoonful of this stuff will put you in a mild hallucinatory state, so you can imagine what a bear would be like if it chowed down on an entire pot of the stuff.
The beautiful Martian tango
These two lizards in the wild sure do look like they're having fun, which is exactly the kind of thing gecko photographer Edgar Wefer says really only happens in the wild when lizards (and any animal really) is allowed to be itself. He notes:
It's a big responsibility to keep any reptile or amphibian. The more we learn, the better they will be. There is nothing better than an animal in its natural place. If it has been captive bred to be a 'pet,' then we have the obligation to make them feel as comfortable as possible. As a veterinarian I see often how we fail on husbandry for reptiles. As a photographer, I just say study, practice, and above all enjoy what you do.
When nature calls 🦉
What's it like to take such arresting and interesting photos of animals? They don't behave and they can be hard to deal with to say the least. Animal photographer Brad Wilson describes his sessions snapping pictures of critters as something that can never be prepared for. While speaking with My Modern Met he explained:
I would describe each session as a sort of meditation in the middle of organized chaos: the animals are free to move around and they rarely hold still—I just wait patiently for the moment when something compelling happens. It's always fleeting, but well worth the effort.
Yeah, so take that
Wildlife photographer Alison Langevad explains the kind of patience required for getting the perfect shot of an animal in their natural habitat:
When shooting wildlife, you do need a certain amount of patience. For someone who is continually active and usually unstoppable I can actually sit for hours watching wildlife waiting for the shot I want. knowing a little about their habits and habitats makes it easier. For me, anticipation for what may happen is half the thrill. Images of what actually unfolds makes up the rest. Hours and hours can pass while I happily wait for a leopard to wake or lion to look my way.
Collection of bears
These bears may be up on their feet and wide awake, but brown bears can spend from four to six months resting in their den which is over one-half their lifetime. Even though this isn't technically a hibernation it's close. Their temperatures don't drop but their heartbeat does go down from 70 beats per minute to about 10, which is pretty dang slow.
This long sleep through the winter occurs so bears can live through a long period of time when there's not food available to them. That being said, bears who live in warmer climates spend less time in hibernation, which is why you're more likely to run in one in the mild winters of southern California.