Squished Monkey Balls Win 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Squished Monkey Balls Win 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Not pictured in this crop: the squished monkey balls. (Photo: © Ken Jensen / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

Animal comedy capitalises on the usual grace of the natural world and the inherent humour of slapstick. Since animals can’t do stand-up routines, we rely on their occasional anthropomorphics and blunders to get a laugh. Here are some of the winners of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards, which honour photographers who manage to capture some of that hilarity on camera. (First photo may be a little NSFW, depending on your workplace.)

“Ouch!”

Photo: © Ken Jensen / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021 Photo: © Ken Jensen / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021

Photographer Ken Jensen captured this display of aggression by a golden silk monkey in Yunnan China. Animals: just as weird as humans sometimes.

“Ninja Prairie Dog”

You won't believe who won this tete-a-tete. (Photo: © Arthur Trevino / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021) You won’t believe who won this tete-a-tete. (Photo: © Arthur Trevino / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

Arthur Trevino captured this battle of nerves, which had a surprising ending. “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,” Trevino said. “A real David vs Goliath story!”

“I Guess Summer’s Over!”

No pigeons were harmed in the making of this photograph. (Photo: © John Speirs / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021) No pigeons were harmed in the making of this photograph. (Photo: © John Speirs / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

John Speirs captured this pigeon getting smacked in the face by a leaf in Scotland. We all can relate to that creeping — and sometimes flying — feeling that the long nights and cold weather are on the way.

“Time for School”

I can't tell who has it worse in this picture. (Photo: © Chee Kee Teo / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021) I can’t tell who has it worse in this picture. (Photo: © Chee Kee Teo / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

Is there any more irksome feeling than being woken up by your parent and rushed out the door? That experience, albeit among smooth-coated otters instead of humans, was captured by photographer Chee Kee Teo. A mother otter hauls her pup out of the water by the nape of its neck, surely on to some important otter business.

“The Joys of a Mud Bath”

Ah, to be an elephant desperate to be covered in mud. (Photo: © Vicki Jauron / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021) Ah, to be an elephant desperate to be covered in mud. (Photo: © Vicki Jauron / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

In a freeze frame, it looks like this young elephant took a tumble. Actually, the pachyderm was doing an intentional face-plant to get lathered in lovely red-orange mud in Matusadona Park, Zimbabwe.

“Majestic and Graceful Bald Eagle”

Photo: © David Eppley / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021 Photo: © David Eppley / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021

I want to fly like an eagle… into a tree. David Eppley captured this bald eagle in a rare moment of miscalculation. “This particular Bald Eagle wasn’t showing its best form,” Eppley said. “Yes, sometimes they miss.” Though the bird recovered and continued on its way, this photo will live on for eternity, which we’re all grateful for.

“See Who Jumps High”

Two mudskippers (agog, at right) watch a third (agog, at left) take a massive jump. (Photo: © Chu Han Lin / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021) Two mudskippers (agog, at right) watch a third (agog, at left) take a massive jump. (Photo: © Chu Han Lin / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

Credit to mudskippers, who despite their habitat manage to look positively gorgeous in a freeze-frame. In this photo, two amphibious fish appear to watch a third jump. The animals absorb oxygen through the lining in their mouth and throat, but we can appreciate that in this photo it looks as though everyone’s in awe of their friend’s airtime.

“Treehugger”

Photo: © Jakub Hodan / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021 Photo: © Jakub Hodan / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021

This proboscis monkey is either scratching its nose or really, really loves that tree. Jakub Hodan caught this embrace between a large-nosed proboscis monkey and the tree on which it perched. “Who are we to judge,” Hodan reasonably inquires.

“How Do You Get That Damn Window Open?”

A raccoon holds tight to a window screen. (Photo: © Nicolas de Vaulx / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021) A raccoon holds tight to a window screen. (Photo: © Nicolas de Vaulx / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

Raccoons are usually quite skilled at breaking in to bins, attics, and traps, so it’s a little jarring to see one having such a hard time with an ordinary window. But such is the case for this frustrated fellow, who stretches spread-eagle across the screen. Its mischief will have to wait for another day.

“Peekaboo”

I bet you can't find the animal expertly concealed in this shot. (Photo: © Paul Marchhart / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021) I bet you can’t find the animal expertly concealed in this shot. (Photo: © Paul Marchhart / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2021)

The bear seemingly attempting to hide behind a tree half as wide as itself was actually clambering down. Caught in a freeze-frame, you can see just one eye of the ursid, as if the animal is trying to discretely check if that weird human is still watching.

“I got you”

Roland Kranitz caught two gophers goofing around. The gopher at right is doing some sort of somersault while another — frankly too close to the stunt for comfort — looks on.