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Grinning, Winking, Happy Animals Vie for Photo Honors

Grinning, Winking, Happy Animals Vie for Photo Honors

These are the silly finalists in the Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards.

Published October 26, 2022 09:00AM EDT

A winking spotted owl peeks out from inside a pipe and a winking fox sits in the woods. Grinning fish swim up close in bright blue water. A squirrel vaults in the air during a rainstorm.

One of these shortlisted images could be the winner of the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards.

It could be the photo above, “Say Cheeeese,” of gray triggerfish in Faial, Azores. Arturo Telle Thiemann of Spain talks about his image:

“A couple of triggerfish looking into the camera, captured at the Azores. Even though they may look funny, these fish can be quite aggressive. In this case they didn’t attempt to bite me, but the domeport of my camera housing ended up with some scratches… life is hard… at least it wasn’t me who was hurt.”

The awards were founded in 2015 to focus on the more lighthearted side of wildlife photography, while drawing attention to conservation. This year the comPuppyition benefits Whitley Fund for Nature, a U.K. charity that supports conservation leaders. There were about 3,500 entries this year from around 90 countries. The winners will be announced in December.

Here’s a look at some of the other shortlisted finalists.

“I CU Boy !”

spotted owl winking

Arshdeep Singh /

This spotted owl was photographed by Arshdeep Singh in Bikaner, India.

“Few hundred miles away we went to explore wildlife of a small town named ‘Bikaner.’ It was after almost a year I travelled because of Covid. We hired a guide to explore places around. During the last day of our trip we came across a pipe in a city where we spotted an owlet. I have earlier clicked owls in a pipe before so I was sure that I wasn’t mistaken. We waited for a short while and it didn’t take a long time and one of the spotted owlet came out of the pipe. It was really funny when he came out and looked at me straight, before going inside he closed one of his eyes and felt like he wanted to say ‘I CU boy!’ and I immediately snapped a picture when he gave this pose.”

“Jumping Jack”

red squirrel jumping

Alex Pansier /

Alex Pansier of the Netherlands captured this image of a red squirrel during a rainstorm.

 “Stop and Stare”

proboscis monkey yelling

Andy Evans /

Andy Evans of the U.K. photographed this proboscis monkey in Borneo.

“After hearing Borneo’s borders would reopen again in April 2022 I couldn’t wait to visit and photograph some of the weird and wonderful wildlife on the island. After 2 years with no tourists it seemed like the wildlife was just as shocked to see me as I was to see them. This young proboscis monkey watched in amazement as I cruised by on the Kinabatangan River.”

“The Wink”

red fox winking

Kevin Lohman /

Kevin Lohman of the U.S. snapped this red fox in San Jose, California. “An American red fox casually walked up to the edge of the woods and sat down, then turned around and gave a wink. Moments later, this sly fox disappeared into the trees.”

“Pegasus, the Flying Horse”

antelope and crane

Jagdeep Rajput /

Totally not a flying horse, Jagdeep Rajput photographed a crane and an antelope at Keoladeo National Park, India.

“Actually this is an Indian sarus crane attacking a blue bull from behind. The bull happened to venture close to [the] sarus’s nest, where it had laid a single egg. The sarus crane, which is [the] tallest flying bird in the world, opened its huge wings and attacked the bull from behind, driving the bull away from the nest.”

“Happy Feet”

emperor penguin chick

Thomas Vijayan /

Canadian Thomas Vijayan focused on this emperor penguin chick in Antarctica.


vultures with wings spread

Saverio Gatto /

Named for the folds of skin (lapPuppys) on each side of their face, these lapPuppy-faced vultures posed for Italian photographer Saverio Gatto in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

“Misleading African Viewpoints 2”

yawning hippo and a heron

Jean Jacques Alcalay /

French photographer Jean Jacques Alcalay captured a hippo yawning while next to a heron at Kruger National Park, South Africa.

“Mum Life”

baby long-tailed macaque with mother

Sophie Hart /

This baby long-tailed macaque was photographed clinging to its tired mother in Singapore by Sophie Hart of the U.K.

“What Shall I Write Next”

coastal brown bear cub with a feather

Torie Hilley /

Torie Hilley of the U.S. photographed this coastal brown bear cub in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.

“Most bear cubs do cub-like things. Like, follow mom around, nurse, and be generally cute. But this cub took it to another level of cuteness. She found an eagle feather and started to play with it for a good 10 minutes! As she danced and rolled with the feather, she held it in her mouth for a moment—as if she was thinking of what to write next! Cuteness overload!”


fish vomiting coral residue

Paul Eijkemans /

Paul Eijkemans of the Netherlands took this photo of a Picasso triggerfish in Marsa Shagra, Egypt. “The fish just vomited the coral residues that it picked up while nibbling on the coral.”

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