The 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards Finalists Have Once Again Proved That Wildlife Can Be Pretty Hilarious

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, dear Pandas! It’s a brand new season and the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have announced their finalists! The photos are fantastic and—in my personal opinion—possibly the best so far in the competition’s 7-year history. We hope they’ll make you laugh as much as they made us.

The shortlist is spectacular and we invite you to scroll down and have a look at all the best photos from the competition. Which photos do you personally think deserve to win the most, dear Pandas? Which ones made your day brighter? Let us know in the comments.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards was founded way back in 2015 by professional photographers Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam. They wanted to create a competition that focused on the lighter side of wildlife photography. What’s more, they aimed to promote wildlife conservation through humor. Case in point, this year, they’re supporting the ‘Save Wild Orangutans’ charity, which safeguards wild orangutans in and around Gunung Palung National Park in Borneo, by donating a tenth of their total net revenue.

I reached out to Michelle Wood, who is part of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards team, with a few questions about the competition, what we can all keep in mind if we want to participate next year, and about the charity that they’re supporting this year.

“Despite it being the second year of COVID, which meant there has been a lot less travel in general, we had over 7,000 entries again this year with photographers finding other opportunities, maybe closer to home—for some excellent wildlife photography. This year we had more bird entries than ever before, of all sorts of species. Just goes to show that wildlife is everywhere if you can be bothered to listen and look for it,” Michelle told Bored Panda via email.

Pssst, Pandas, when you’re done upvoting the photos you liked the most, check out Bored Panda’s earlier articles about the competition’s previous finalists in 2020 and 2019.

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#1 Time For School

“A smooth-coated otter “bit” its baby otter to bring it back to and fro for swimming lesson”

Image credits: Chee Kee Teo / Comedy wildlife photo

Michelle told Bored Panda that it’s difficult to give advice to anyone gearing up to participate in next year’s competition. “The uniqueness of Comedy Wildlife compared to other photography competitions is the comedy aspect which can be a split-second decision to push the button at the right time,” she said. “We would probably say it’s a good idea to take your camera or camera phone with you whenever you are out and about, just in case that special moment arises,” she suggested always being ready to capture some amazing shots.

“And you have to be patient, very, very patient. Wildlife photography involves a lot of waiting around, Comedy Wildlife photography even more!! But the competition is free and so it is always worth entering your photo or video. By getting involved with the competition, even buying a print or calendar, you are directly helping us support our conservation charity and highlight our message, which is at the heart of the Awards.”

#2 I Guess Summer’s Over

“I was taking pics of pigeons in flight when this leaf landed on birds face”

Image credits: John Speirs / Comedy wildlife photo

#3 See Who Jumps High

Image credits: Chu han lin / Comedy wildlife photo

According to Michelle, how the Awards decide on what charity to support each year depends on a variety of factors. “We look at a range of factors, including sustainability, reach, location, species, long term goals. Save Wild Orangutans is an amazing initiative, set up by the Gunung Palung program helping the local population live and work in harmony with the Orangutan population and their habitat. We all share this world and have to work together to preserve it. This charity aligns with our core conservation message and we will do everything we can to shine a light on their work, through coverage of the competition.” 

The Category and Overall Winners of the competition will be announced on the 22nd of October, and I can’t wait to see who takes the cake (and our hearts). In the meantime, the 2021 competition finalists will be exhibited at The Photography Show in Birmingham. So if any of you Pandas are in the UK and want to hear competition co-founder Tom talk about how everything got started, go ahead and give them a visit.

#4 Did I Say You Could Take My Picture?

“I followed this Ruby-Crowned Kinglet for about 15 minutes as it hopped from one branch to another in fast succession. I think it knew I was following it because, all of a sudden, it just stopped and stared at me for all of about 3 seconds!”

Image credits: Patrick Dirlam / Comedy wildlife photo

#5 Ninja Prairie Dog!

“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. A real David vs Goliath story!”

Image credits: Arthur Trevino / Comedy wildlife photo

#6 Monday Morning Mood

“I took this shot while photographing a group of Pied starlings perched in a tree at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in South Africa. It perfectly sums up my mood on most Monday mornings :)”

Image credits: Andrew Mayes / Comedy wildlife photo

The finalists include 42 images, plus the Portfolio and Video category entries. 2021’s shortlist showcases the biggest mix of animals seen in the competition so far. The Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards team notes that among the entries are a laughing vine snake from India, a trio of strutting Gentoo penguins on the beaches of the Falkland Islands, and a Kangaroo performing a picture-perfect Pavarotti impersonation in Australia.

In a press release, Paul, the co-founder of the competition, said that the team has been overwhelmed with the number and quality of the entries they received this year. A whopping 7k photos were submitted to the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards for consideration from every single corner of the globe.

“It was an amazing turnout, especially given the impact of the pandemic. The huge number of images we receive every year illustrates the appetite there is to engage with conservation and reminds us that wildlife truly is incredible and hilarious and, we must do all we can to protect it,” Paul said.

#7 Majestic And Graceful Bald Eagle

“Bald Eagles will use the same nest for years, even decades, adding new material to it at the beginning and throughout the nesting season. Normally, they are highly skilled at snapping branches off of trees while in flight. Possibly tired from working nonstop all morning on a new nest, this particular Bald Eagle wasn’t showing its best form. Yes, sometimes they miss. Although this looks painful, and it might very well be, the eagle recovers with just a few sweeping wing strokes, and choses to rest a bit before making another lumber run.”

Image credits: David Eppley / Comedy wildlife photo

#8 Don’t Worry. Be Happy!


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

Image credits: Axel Bocker / Comedy wildlife photo

#9 Mr. Giggles

“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 motionlessly 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.”

Image credits: Martina Novotna / Comedy wildlife photo

Members of the public are free to vote for their fave photos on the competition’s website right until October 10. One lucky voter will even walk away with a brand-new iPad!

“Whittling down the list of photographs was harder than ever this year,” said competition co-founder Tom. “There were so many funny pictures that had us laughing that we couldn’t settle on a top 40—so we’re releasing the top 42 instead! It was great to see a range of animals, from the incredibly rare to the humble pigeon.” Tom added that the team can’t wait to see what the public chooses as their favorite.

#10 Peekaboo

“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.”

Image credits: Charlie Page / Comedy wildlife photo

#11 Ouch!

“A golden silk monkey in Yunnan China – this is actually a show of aggression however in the position that the monkey is in it looks quite painful!”

Image credits: Ken Jensen / Comedy wildlife photo

#12 Dancing Away To Glory

“A young langur sways its body to give an impression that its dancing.”

Image credits: Sarosh Lodhi / Comedy wildlife photo

The photographer who took the overall best picture will win a one-week safari with Alex Walker’s Serian in the Masai Mara, in Kenya, as well as a unique handmade trophy from the Art Garage in Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania.

A panel of experts will judge the finalists, and it’s quite an impressive turnout! The panel includes wildlife photographers Daisy Gilardini, Tom Laman, and Will Burrand-Lucas, travel editor Neil Stevenson, TV presenter Kate Humble, actor and comedian Hugh Dennis, co-founder of The Born Free Foundation Will Travers OBE, Managing Director of Serif, developer of award sponsor Affinity Photo Ashley Hewson, ThinkTank’s Simon Pollock, image expert Celina Dunlop, Amazing Internet’s Andrew Skirrow, and Bella Lack, the “formidable ambassador for conservation.”

#13 Quarantine Life

“Isolated inside with your family eager to get out and explore the world? These eastern raccoon kits are too. Just when you think there’s no more room in the tree hollow, mother raccoon appears and displays just how compact the space is. The babies clambered all over their mom and each another, struggling to take a look at the exact same time.  This photo was taken in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. After exploring a particular area with numerous tree hallows, I identified it as a hot spot for raccoon families. Since raccoons will move from den to den, often not spending more than one night at a time in a particular den, locating an area with numerous options is key to locating the animals. I stumbled across this family and immediately worked on leveling the camera with the hole to prevent an upward angle. When the camera and tripod were ready, the baby raccoons were extremely curious (and cooperative), sticking their heads out for a closer look!”

Image credits: Kevin Biskaborn / Comedy wildlife photo

#14 Operatic Warm UPS

“The kangaroo looked like he was singing ‘the hills are alive, with the sound of music’ in the field.”

Image credits: Lea Scaddan / Comedy wildlife photo

#15 Laughing Snake

“Vine snakes are very commonly seen snakes in western ghats of India. When approached they show aggression by opening their mouth wide open. Nothing to scare of this beautiful harmless Vine snake.I was happy to find it and smiling and  It looks like he was smiling back at me.”

Image credits: Aditya Kshirsagar / Comedy wildlife photo

#16 Draw Me Like One Of Your French Bears

“This young Kodiak Brown Bear sauntered down the riverbed and stopped across from me. She proceeded to start making herself a bear bed pulling back the sand with her gigantic claws. Once she had her bed just how she wanted it she laid down, rolled over on her back and started smiling and me! And she didn’t stop smiling! I would have to say she was the most provacative bear I had ever seen!”

Image credits: Wenona Suydam / Comedy wildlife photo

#17 We’re Too Sexy For This Beach

“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”

Image credits: Joshua Galicki / Comedy wildlife photo

#18 How Do You Get That Damn Window Open?

“This raccoon spends his time trying to get into houses out of curiosity and perhaps also to steal food”

Image credits: Nicolas de VAULX / Comedy wildlife photo

#19 Flautist

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

Image credits: Roland Kranitz / Comedy wildlife photo

#20 The Green Stylist

Image credits: Gurumoorthy K / Comedy wildlife photo

#21 Before And After Coffee

“Baby Great Horned Owl shows human-like reaction as one wakes up before coffee and after having a cup. I was avidly watching the two cute owlets in the nest, hoping it would wake up and move. It took a pretty long time, as both babies were too sleepy and were nuzzling each other, sleeping with mouths open. When one finally started to stir, this is what I saw. It is too precious, half opening both eyes, opening one and finally both eyes looking like it was startled.”

Image credits: Nat Tan / Comedy wildlife photo

#22 Foot Jam

“There is a great big pine tree with a small to medium sized hole in it near my house where a young racoon has called this home for the past year. Well this year it appears that the little racoon has outgrown it’s tiny home as it barely fits!”

Image credits: Brook Burling / Comedy wildlife photo

#23 Are You Talking To Me? / Big Smile / Fluff / Lol

“While trying to make proper pictures with flash I visited two groups of wild horses for two years. Every now and then they didn’t try to eat my flashes or run over the stands and they posed for me.”

Image credits: Edwin Smiths / Comedy wildlife photo

#24 Let’s Dance

“Two Kamchatka bear cubs square up for a celebratory play fight having successfully navigated a raging torrent (small stream!)”

Image credits: Andy Parkinson / Comedy wildlife photo

#25 Attitude!!

“Males of these species of lizard chooses higher elevations to monitor their territory and display. Caught this perticular male roosting on the twing of bush during high heat summer.”

Image credits: Aditya Kshirsagar / Comedy wildlife photo

#26 Peek-A-Boo

“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.”

Image credits: Pal Marchhart / Comedy wildlife photo

#27 The Butt Dunk / The Face Plant / The Shake Off / The Final Scratch

“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.”

Image credits: Vicki Jauron / Comedy wildlife photo

#28 Yes, I Did It

“A frog climbed a flower from a plant, and when he made it to the end he laughed celebrating his success”

Image credits: Dikky Oesin / Comedy wildlife photo

#29 Treehugger

“This Proboscis monkey could be just scratching its nose on the rough bark, or it could be kissing it. Trees play a big role in the lives of monkeys. Who are we to judge…”

Image credits: Jakub Hodan / Comedy wildlife photo

#30 Shhhh! I’m So Hungover It Hurts

“Burrowing owl youngsters are so amusing to watch.  This burrowing owl caught my eye because he looked like he a hangover.”

Image credits: Anita Ross / Comedy wildlife photo

#31 Directing Penguin

“Two Gentoo penguins having a discussion after coming out of the surf”

Image credits: Carol Taylor / Comedy wildlife photo

#32 Sweet Lips Are For Kissing!

“This picture was taken at Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean.  Usually box fishes are difficult to take pictures of, since they do not have a problem of a diver coming close, but if you show interest, they always turn the back and not the face to you. That’s why I tried to swim 0.5m above the fish and showing no interest at all to him. The same time I had my camera not in front of me, but below at my chest pointing to the bottom. When the right moment had come, I turned the camera 90 degrees to the front and just point and shoot, hoping to have the fish in focus. Never expected to have its beautiful lips that close!”

Image credits: Philipp Stahr / Comedy wildlife photo

#33 The Photo-Bombing Wave

“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 photo-bombs with a wave to the onlookers.  Or, it sure looked like a wave…..”

Image credits: Cheryl Strahl / Comedy wildlife photo

#34 Leaning Post

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

Image credits: Andy Parkinson / Comedy wildlife photo

#35 Missed

“Two Western Grey Kangaroos were fighting and one missed kicking him in the stomach.”

Image credits: Lea Scaddan / Comedy wildlife photo

#36 Monkey Riding A Giraffe

“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 :-)”

Image credits: Dirk-Jan Steehouwer / Comedy wildlife photo

#37 Just Checking

“A male Vervet Monkey was hanging around a bridge over the Luangwa River in South Luangwa National Park looking for some action (handouts from passersby).”

Image credits: Larry Petterborg / Comedy wildlife photo

#38 Chinese Whispers

“The little raccoon cups are telling secrets to each other”

Image credits: Jan Piecha / Comedy wildlife photo

#39 I Got You

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

Image credits: Roland Kranitz / Comedy wildlife photo

#40 Smoked Deer For Dinner

“I have been following the family of a tigress called Paaro in India’s Jim Corbett National Park for many years. This is her daughter who has stood on her hind limbs to be able to scratch her face with a log. But, it appears as if she is carrying the log on her shoulders.”

Image credits: Siddhant Agrawal / Comedy wildlife photo

#41 Welcome To Nature!

“A red damselfly welcomes us into the world of macro nature. It was so amazing to see it climb up the straw, and pause at the intersection to say hi! :)”

Image credits: Mattias Hammar / Comedy wildlife photo

#42 Cotton Eyed Joe

“Ever seen a grizzly bear square dance? Just need a jug, some spoons and a banjo. Gets ‘em every time”

Image credits: Rick Elieson / Comedy wildlife photo

#43 The Baboon Who Feels Like A Tenor

“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”

Image credits: Clemence Guinard / Comedy wildlife photo

#44 A Parental Discussion (Mum And Chick)

“Kings penguin mother and chick are in a heavy discussion”

Image credits: Josef Friedhuber / Comedy wildlife photo

#45 Shaking Off 2020

“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’.”

Image credits: Dawn Wilson / Comedy wildlife photo

#46 Fluff

“While trying to make proper pictures with flash I visited two groups of wild horses for two years. Every now and then they didn’t try to eat my flashes or run over the stands and they posed for me”

Image credits: Edwin Smits / Comedy wildlife photo