Photo Awards Find Rollicking Humor in Nature

Now's a really good time for a belly laugh.

Smiley photo of parrot fish

©️ Arthur Telle Thiemenn / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020


Seriously. Who doesn't need a good laugh right now?

With a grinning fish, a monkey biker gang, and a singing rodent, it's nature to the rescue with the 2020 Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards. The annual competition showcases the light side of conservation photography, highlighting images with a sense of humor.

"The competition exists to recognize great photography, and more importantly great photography that has captured a wild animal doing something so funny that makes us snort into our cup of tea," Tom Sullam, one of the competition co-founders, tells Treehugger.

"We are trying to raise the issue of conservation through a humorous, upbeat and positive association with these animals. The simple idea behind it all is that we strongly believe humor and positivity have a major role to play in building awareness, interest and eventually action towards protecting the animals that live on this planet."

Sullam says they received entries throughout the pandemic, as people either took photos of their local wildlife or had plenty of time to sift through images they already had.

This year's contest attracted 7,000 entries (the most ever received) including the Highly Commended winner above called "Smiley" by Arthur Telle Thiemenn. It features a colorful parrot fish from El Hierro, Canary Islands.

Says Thiemenn of his photo, "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!"

Here are the rest of the winners and what the photographers had to say about their humorous creations:

Overall Winner

"Terry the Turtle flipping the bird"
"Terry the Turtle flipping the bird". ©️ Mark Fitzpatrick / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

The overall award went to Mark Fitzpatrick who took his prize-winning shot while swimming with turtles off Lady Elliot Island in Queensland, Australia. He caught a moment when a turtle's flipper is pulling back as he swims toward the camera, which makes it appear as he is making an obscene gesture at the photographer.

“It's been amazing to see the reaction to my photo of Terry the Turtle flipping the bird, with Terry giving people a laugh in what has been a difficult year for many, as well as helping spread an important conservation message," said Fitzpatrick.

"Hopefully Terry the Turtle can encourage more people to take a moment and think about how much our incredible wildlife depend on us and what we can do to help them. Flippers crossed that this award puts Terry in a better mood the next time I see him at Lady Elliot Island!”

The Affinity Photo People’s Choice Award

'O Sole Mio'
'O Sole Mio'. ©️ Roland Kranitz / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

Roland Kranitz had the people's choice winner for this melodic entry. He took this image in Hungary of a sfgpermophile (a type of ground squirrel) that looked like it was belting out a song.

"It's like he was just 'singing' to me!," Kranitz said. "She had a very nice voice."

The Animals of the Land Category Award

“Almost time to get up”
“Almost time to get up”. ©️ Charlie Davidson / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

With just its rear end peeking out of a tree in Newport News, Virginia, this raccoon looked like it wasn't quite ready to face the day.

"The raccoon was just waking up and stretching," said photographer Charlie Davidson. "We have a raccoon in this tree every so often, sometimes for a night and sometimes for a month."

Spectrum Photo Creatures in the Air:

“Hide and Seek”
“Hide and Seek”.  ©️ Tim Hearn / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

This damselfly was definitely losing this game of hide and seek.

"As this azure damselfly slowly woke up, he became aware of my presence," explains photographer Tim Hearn.

"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."

Amazing Internet Portfolio Award

"Deadly Fart"
"Deadly Fart". ©️ Daisy Gilardini / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

Daisy Gilardini captured a brown bear in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, acting like a teenage boy.

"A brown bear is lifting its leg to smell after a fart.. then collapses," she said.

Think Tank Photo Junior Category

“I've got you this time!”
“I've got you this time!”. ©️ Olin Rogers / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

Olin Rogers captured this image of an African lion cub stalking his brother from atop a termite mound in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Highly Commended Winners

“Tough Negotiations”
“Tough Negotiations”. ©️ Ayala Fishaimer / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

Ayala Fishaimer took this photo of a fox that had pulled a shrew out of the sand in its den. It seems as if they are having a conversation and the shrew is asking the fox not to have him for dinner.

"Seriously, would you share some"
"Seriously, would you share some". ©️ Krisztina Scheef / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

"Atlantic puffins are amazing flyers and their fishing talents are — well — as you see some do better than others!" said Krisztina Scheeff. "I just love the second puffin's look — can I just have one please?"

“I had to stay late at work”
“I had to stay late at work”. ©️ Luis Burgueño/ Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

Luis Burgueño shot this photo of South sea elephants in Isla Escondida in Patagonia. "They adopt very curious gestures!" Burgueño said.

"Monkey Business"
"Monkey Business". ©️ Megan Lorenz / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

"While on a trip to Borneo, I had many opportunities to watch monkeys interacting with each other," said Megan Lorenz. "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!"

"Social distance, please!"
"Social distance, please!". ©️ Petr Sochman / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

"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," said Petr Sochman.

"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."

"It's a Mocking Bird"
"It's a Mocking Bird". ©️ Sally Lloyd-Jones / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

"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 it's catch," said Sally Lloyd-Jones. "It appeared to be mocking the person who erected the sign!"

"The Race"
"The Race". ©️ Yevhen Samuchenko / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

"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," said Yevhen Samuchenko.

"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."

"Sun Salutation Class"
"Sun Salutation Class". ©️ Sue Hollis / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

"We were surprised to see that sea lions actively practice yoga," said Sue Hollis. "Guess they need to get their Zen as well."

"Fun For All Ages"
"Fun For All Ages". ©️ Thomas Vijayan / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2020

"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," said Thomas Vijayan, who made 15 trips to India in 2014 in search of the perfect photo.

"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."