Ten Hilarious Winners of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

The annual contest is a joyful celebration of the natural world

three raccoon cubs on a large tree branch
Jan Piecha earned a spot as a finalist with their picture of three young raccoons, titled "Secrets."  Jan Piecha/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Since the competition began in 2015, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have captured some of the funniest moments in the animal kingdom. This year’s winners and finalists include a clumsy elephant mud bath, a gossiping gaggle of raccoons, and a young otter’s swimming lesson.

A panel of judges reviewed thousands of submissions from photographers around the world before selecting the winners for each of the categories, including air, sea, and land animals. The winning image for the people's choice award category is left up to members of the public. The overall winner gets a handmade trophy from Tanzania and a weeklong safari in Kenya, per Rachel Treisman for NPR.

This year’s grand prize winner was Ken Jensen, who claimed the top spot for his image titled “Ouch!” of a male golden silk monkey in China. John Speirs won the Affinity Photo People's Choice Award for his image of a pigeon being smacked on the face with a leaf, and Arthur Trevino won the Animals of the Land category with a dramatic shot of a faceoff between a prairie dog and a bald eagle, reports Popular Photography's Harry Guinness.

The contest is more than a lighthearted celebration of the natural world—it aims to be a tool for species conservation. Organizers donate a portion of their contest revenue to conservation projects and this year, proceeds are going to the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program in Borneo.

"The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards was born from the need for a wildlife photography competition that was light-hearted, unpretentious and importantly, could make a difference to animals and our natural world," according to the contest organizers. The awards "use humor as a tool to bring audiences in on the wider story about conservation."

Next year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards will open for entrants in spring 2022. The full list of winners and finalists is available on the competition website.

Here is a selection of the winning images:

Overall Winner: Ken Jensen, "Ouch!"

A male golden silk monkey sitting on a rope with his mouth open
"This is actually a show of aggression however in the position that the monkey is in it looks quite painful!" writes Ken Jensen, who photographed the golden silk monkey in Yunnan China.  Ken Jensen/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Creatures Under the Sea Award: Chee Kee Teo, "Time for school"

A mother otter grabs a baby otter by it's scruff
River otters are excellent swimmers, but must first learn the skill from their mom when they are just a few weeks old.  Chee Kee Teo/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Highly Commended Winner: Jakub Hodan, "Treehugger"

A male Male proboscis monkey pressed his nose into a tree
Male proboscis monkeys use their fleshy noses to attract mates, and scientists suspect those large schnozzes may help amplify the species' calls.  Jakub Hodan/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Creatures on the Land Award: Arthur Trevino, "Ninja Prairie Dog!"

A small prairie dog and large bald eagle face off in the snow
“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," writes photographer Arthur Trevino.
  Arthur Trevino/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Amazing Internet Portfolio Award: Vicki Jauron, "The Joy of a Mud Bath"

An African elephant takes a clumsy mud bath
"An elephant expresses his joy in taking a mud bath against the dead trees on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe on a hot afternoon," writes photographer Vicki Jauron.  Vicki Jauron/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Highly Commended Winner: Chu han lin, "See who jumps high"

Two colorful Mudskippers jumping
These mudskippers, which were photographed in Taiwan, are capable of remaining out of the water for up to 60 hours as long as they stay moist. Chu han lin/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Highly Commended Winner: Pal Marchhart, "Peekaboo"

A brown bear hiding behind a tree trunk
Brown bears have highly variable coat colors, ranging from grayish-white to almost black. Pal Marchhart/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Highly Commended Winner: Lea Scaddan, "Missed"

Two male kangaroos kicking and punching each other in a grassland
Western Grey Kangaroos are known for their “boxing” skills, as males fight to establish dominance or win a mate.  Lea Scaddan/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Creatures in the Air Award and Affinity Photo People's Choice Award: John Speirs, "I guess summer's over"

A pigeon on a ledge with a brown leaf on its face
Pigeons seen in cities are descendants of domesticated pigeons, which were originally bred from the wild rock dove, a species that naturally inhabits sea cliffs and mountains. John Speirs/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Highly Commended Winner: Andy Parkinson, "Let's dance"

Two bear cubs play near a stream with their paws up
“Two Kamchatka bear cubs square up for a celebratory play fight having successfully navigated a raging torrent (small stream!)," writes photographer Andy Parkinson.  Andy Parkinson/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards