Come in and welcome to the weekend, my friends! This has been a strange and unsettling week both in the U.S. and other places as well … something in the air, perhaps? But, we’re not here to re-hash the gloomy week, but rather to relieve the angst it has caused us. And what better way to relieve angst than critters? It’s my go-to when I want to be cheered!
This week the Natural History Museum in London announced the LUMIX People’s Choice Award for Wildlife Photographer. With 48,000 entries from 100 countries, obviously I cannot show you all of them, but I thought I’d share some of the top 25!
First place went to Sam Rowley for this one titled “Station Squabble” Sam discovered the best way to photograph the mice inhabiting London’s Underground was to lie on the platform and wait. He only saw them fight over scraps of food dropped by passengers a few times, possibly because it is so abundant. This fight lasted a split second, before one grabbed a crumb and they went their separate ways.
“Matching Outfits”, Michel Zoghzoghi. Michel was in the Pantanal, Brazil photographing jaguars. One afternoon, as he was on the Três Irmãos River, a mother and her cub crossed right in front of his boat. He watched mesmerized as they left the water holding an anaconda with a very similar pattern to their own.
“The Surrogate Mother”, by Martin Buzora. Elias Mugambi is a ranger at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. He often spends weeks away from his family caring for orphaned black rhinos like Kitui here. The young rhinos are in the sanctuary as a result of poaching or because their mothers are blind and cannot care for them safely in the wild.
“Spot The Reindeer”, Francis De Andres. The conditions for photographing at the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard are extreme, but wildlife has adapted to the environment and its freezing temperatures. Francis found this composition of white arctic reindeer, which were observing him, both curious and charming.
“A Suitable Gift”, Marco Valentini. Marco was in Hortobágyi National Park, Hungary when he spotted these kestrels displaying typical courtship behaviour. Here the female has just received an offering of a young green lizard from her suitor and in this touching moment she tenderly took hold of his claw.
“Big Ears”, Valeriy Maleev. Valeriy was on a summer expedition to the Mongolian part of the Gobi Desert when he happened upon a long-eared jerboa. As blood moves through the ears of these usually nocturnal animals, excess heat dissipates across the skin and so the jerboa is able to stay cool.
“Bon Appétit”, Lucas Bustamante. Night hikes through the Ecuadorian jungle are one of Lucas’ favourite activities. With a keen interest in herpetology, he was overjoyed to spot this labiated rainfrog which are abundant in the region. It had just caught a baby tarantula and its comical expression said ‘caught in the act!’
“Mother Knows Best”, Marion Vollborn. While on a bear watching trip to the Nakina River in British Columbia, Canada, Marion spotted a grizzly bear and her young cub approach a tree. The mother bear started to rub against the tree trunk and was followed shortly by the cub, imitating its mother.
“What A Poser”, Clement Mwangi. In Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, Clement spent time observing this beautiful leopard as she soaked up the last warm rays of the setting sun. Clement is mindful to remember to take pleasure in life’s simple moments – being all too aware that sometimes, as a wildlife photographer, you can miss the exceptional while looking for the unusual.
“Beak To Beak”, Claudio Contreras Koob. Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in the state of Yucatán is home to Mexico’s largest flock of Caribbean flamingos. This chick is less than five days old – it will stay in its nest less than a week before it joins a crèche of other youngsters who wander around the colony searching for food.
Zoo Miami is the oldest and largest zoo in Florida and the fifth-largest in the United States. But despite the fact that it opened 72 years ago, it only recently acquired four meerkats … well, make that six now.
8-year-old meerkat Yam Yam started the year by becoming a new mom. Yam Yam, who came to the zoo from Busch Gardens Tampa, gave birth to two beautiful babies on the 18th of January. Yam Yam shares her living space with three non-related males: Gizmo, Joe, and Diego. Just one of them is the father and only a DNA test could reveal who’s the biological dad. However, the whole gang is raising the pups together.
It was August 2014. Amber Isaac knew something was amiss when one of her pregnant alpacas started going into labor at 11 months, when alpacas typically remain pregnant for a little over a year. When the baby finally arrived into the world, she was “barely bigger than a fetus.” Sadly, these are the types of health issues that can result from alpaca breeding.
Cody, who lives on an alpaca ranch in Castle Rock, Colorado, only weighed 6.5 pounds when she was born. The average newborn alpaca weighs anywhere between 18 and 20 pounds. The odds were against Cody from the start, but Isaac refused to give up on her. She took Cody into her home to look after her and bottle-fed her like clockwork, determined to have her gain weight and become the healthiest she could be. An infection almost took the young alpaca’s life when she was only three weeks old – but she survived, proving that no matter what came her way, Cody had the spirit to tackle it head on.
Take a look at Cody today, as she is about to get a new bedroom!
I hope you’ve found the critters both humorous and relaxing, a break from it all. Have a fun, safe, and happy weekend, my friends!