On a cold day in early spring in China’s Qilian Mountains National Nature Reserve, photographer Yongqing Bao watched a fox and marmot tango for about an hour before they finally clashed. Minutes later, the fox trotted away with a delicious meal.
(Yongqing Bao / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
Oct. 18, 2019, 5:38 p.m.
The scene looks like something straight out of “Loony Tunes”: a snarling fox executes a successful sneak-attack on a marmot frozen in the most terror-filled Heisman pose nature’s ever seen.
The image, captured by Chinese photographer Yongqing Bao, is titled “The Moment,” and it’s one of the London National History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners. Now in its 55th year, the contest received more than 48,000 entries from 100 different countries. Judges narrowed the pool down to 19 winners in 18 categories.
“The Moment” attracted meme-worthy acclaim on social media for its comedic value, but sadly, the marmot in question died a few moments after the image was taken, says museum spokesperson Zoe Summers in an email to the New York Times’Liam Stack.
“I can confirm that sadly the marmot didn’t survive,” Summers wrote. “The fox was successful in the attack and was able to feed some very hungry cubs!”
Bao was a joint winner in the mammal behavior category. Other categories include animals in their environment, animal portraits, earth’s environments, underwater, invertebrates and wildlife photojournalism.
One hundred images from the contest will be displayed at the South Kensington institution in London beginning today. Entries for next year's competition can be submitted as of Monday, October 21.