Comedy Photo Finalists Highlight Silliness in Wildlife

Nature dares you not to laugh.

green tree frog

Dikky Oesin / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Whether it's a monkey practicing disco moves, operatic kangaroos, or photobombing polar bears, sometimes nature is just funny.

Case in point: the finalists for this year's Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. They include "Yes, I Did It," above where Dikky Oesin stopped laughing long enough to photograph this green tree frog in Tangerang, Indonesia.

"A frog climbed a flower from a plant, and when he made it to the end he laughed, celebrating his success," Oesin says of the shortlisted image.

Thousands of entries have been received in the competition from around the world. Winners will be announced in October.

"There are some amazing entries this year, including a lot of bird images, more than ever before. Possibly because of the travel limits imposed as a result of COVID, people are looking at wildlife much closer to home, which is great. We even had a pigeon finalist this year!" Michelle Wood, awards managing director, tells Treehugger.

"The first and most important factor with the finalists' entries is the comedy factor. It’s that simple—they have to really make us laugh. Then, of course it is the quality of the photography, which has to be excellent."

Each year, the competition also supports a charity that works to protect a vulnerable species. This year, the competition is donating 10% of its total net revenue to Save Wild Orangutans. The charity protects orangutan populations and forest biodiversity in and around Gunung Palung National Park, Borneo.

Voting is open now for the People's Choice Award where everyday people can weigh in on their favorite of the 42 finalists.

Here's a look at some of the photos that made this year's shortlist and what the photographers had to say about their images.

"Dancing Away to Glory"

dancing langur

Sarosh Lodhi / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Photographer Sarosh Lodhi captured this image of a langur in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in India.

"A young langur sways its body to give an impression that it's dancing."

“The Baboon Who Feels Like a Tenor”

singing baboon

Clemence Guinard / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

French photographer Clemence Guinard photographed this Hamadryas baboon in Saudi Arabia.

"Resting with its pack, down a road in the Saudi Arabian mountains, this Hamadryas baboon started to yawn. But the graceful position of its paws, its fluffy cape, its eyes looking like it put some makeup. In front of the camera, this baboon was on stage, ready to please its public and to start its tenor's solo."

“We're Too Sexy for This Beach”

walking penguins

Joshua Galicki / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

These Gentoo penguins certainly cooperated when American photographer Joshua Galicki was looking for a perfect photograph in East Falkland, Falkland Islands.

"I was lying on the beach during a stretch of fair weather at Volunteer Point in East Falkland, just waiting to capture a Gentoo penguin jumping out of the surf to land on the beach. To my delight, a trio emerged from the water and walked straight in my direction. I really enjoyed photographing this moment as it seems to capture some sassy personality displayed by these individuals."

“Shaking Off 2020”

brown pelican

Dawn Wilson / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

This brown pelican was the perfect model for Dawn Wilson in Louisiana.

"I was photographing brown pelicans on a rainy day in southern Louisiana in early 2021, still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pelicans woke up, they would shake the water off their bodies before heading out to fish. This particular one almost seemed to be shrugging his shoulders, as if to say, 'I have no idea what 2021 will be like.'"

“Leaning Post”

brown bear cub leaning on its mother

Andy Parkinson / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

This brown bear mother and cub struck a pose for photographer Andy Parkinson in the Kamchatka Peninsula, far east Russia.

"A young cub decides to use his patient mother as a leaning post, the birds in the trees requiring closer inspection."

“Don't Worry. Be Happy!”

dragonfly grinning

Axel Bocker / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

No doubt, Axel Bocker smiled when he captured this image of what looks to be a grinning dragonfly in Hemer, Germany.

"A dragonfly early in the morning on a flower looks into my camera and it seems as if it [is] laughing. The year 2020-2021 was very hard for everybody... But when you go outside and watch carefully the beauty of our nature, then problems seem to get less for me. So if I have a bad day this image make me give a smile back."

“Directing Penguin”

two penguins in the surf

Carol Taylor / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Carol Taylor found these Gentoo penguins having a serious discussion in the Falkland Islands.

"Two Gentoo penguins having a discussion after coming out of the surf."


hiding gosling

Charlie Page / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Charlie Page couldn’t resist this little gosling in Lee Valley Park, London.

"I was photographing a group of goslings for a while when one broke away from the pack. It hid behind the leg of a bench for a few seconds before poking its little head out to say hello."

“Time for School”

mother and pup otter

Chee Kee Teo / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Chee Kee Teo photographed this smooth-coated otter and pup in Singapore.

"A smooth-coated otter 'bit' its baby otter to bring it back to and fro for [a] swimming lesson."

“The Photo-Bombing Wave”

photo-bombing polar bear

Cheryl Strahl / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Photobombing is fun for all sorts of species. Cheryl Strahl’s image of polar bears on the North Slope of Alaska was bombed by another bear.

"Polar bear mom and cubs frolicked in the icy waters of the Arctic. They kept dipping under the water and once came up together with this amusing pose. A tender moment is shared by mom and one cub while the other photobombs with a wave to the onlookers. Or, it sure looked like a wave..."

“Monkey Riding a Giraffe”

monkey 'riding' a giraffe

Dirk-Jan Steehouwer / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Dirk-Jan Steehouwer of the Netherlands noticed when this monkey and giraffe were interestingly positioned in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda.

"During a game drive we found a group of monkeys playing around with each other, jumping up and down from a bare branch. It was a joy to watch. After a while I saw a giraffe coming from the right. By the moment the giraffe did pass the branch, one of the monkeys was on his post to ride the giraffe."

“I Guess Summer's Over”

pigeon with leaf on its head

John Speirs / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

John Speirs photographed this pigeon in the resort town of Oban, Scotland.

"I was taking pics of pigeons in flight when this leaf landed on bird’s face."

“Operatic Warm Ups”

kangaroo in field

Lea Scaddan / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

When Lea Scaddan photographed this kangaroo in Perth, Western Australia, it appeared to be rehearsing for a concert.

"The kangaroo looked like he was singing 'the hills are alive, with the sound of music' in the field."

“Mr. Giggles”

giggling seal

Martina Novotna / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

There are several hundred seals living at the rocky beach below Ravenscar village in the U.K. Martina Novotna photographed this grey seal pup there.

"Grey seal pup appears to be giggling. I loved the expression captured. It looks so human-like. I was lying on a rocky beach for hours, as motionless as possible, patiently waiting for seal life to unfold around me. This seal pup came onto the shore for a bit of rest and ended up sleeping on its chosen rock for hours before the incoming tide forced it to move more inland. Occasionally, it would stretch and yawn and it was one of the yawns that led to this expression, looking as if the seal was giggling.


bear behind tree

Pal Marchhart / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Pat Marchhart took this photo of a brown bear in the Hargita Mountains of Romania.

"A young bear descending from a tree looks like he/she is playing hide and seek."

“I Got You”

rodents playing catch

Roland Kranitz / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

Spermophiles are sometimes called ground squirrels or gopher squirrels. Roland Kranitz photographed these in Hungary.

"I spent my days in my usual 'gopher place' and yet again, these funny little animals haven't belied their true nature."