Ever wondered what would happen if you mixed America’s Funniest Home Videos with an issue of National Geographic? The result would be a comedy competition that features some of the best eyebleach in the natural world. The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have achieved this dream as they deliver us the joy of seeing kangaroos pulling off pro-wrestling moves, vultures looking like parking lot flashers and lion cubs absolutely eating it against an acacia tree.

Michael Eastwell / Comedywildlifephoto.com

Paging Rhea Ripley

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards just released a gallery of their 2022 Finalists, and the list is as wholesome and heartwarming as we could have asked of a comedic conservationist competition. This year’s field of funny nature photos is as competitive as any Oscar night, but our enjoyment of the entries is far less problematic than anything Hollywood has the capacity to put out. The 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards finalists provide us a brief respite from the horrors of a politically unstable post-plague world, but they also carry an important message of conservation. We’ll take any excuse to look at a picture of a bear getting smacked in the face by a salmon.

John Chaney / Comedywildlifephoto.com

Something something Soviet Russia

The competition is split up into six categories as well as an overall award and a people’s choice award (the voting for which is currently open). Contestants are invited to enter up to 10 photos total, with a cap of three photos per category. The entries are judged by a mixed panel of both nature photographers and comedians, and each year’s winners earn a variety of prizes from trophies, to camera bags, to a one-week safari in Kenya.

Per the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’ website, the competition was founded by nature photographer Paul Joynson-Hicks in 2015 when he had the idea to promote some of the goofiest photographs he had in his portfolio from various excursions in East Africa. He decided to launch a competition among the wildlife photography community from his office in northern Tanzania to see who had the best blooper reel. Over the next few years, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards grew into a global phenomenon with shutterbugs from every corner of the world submitting their finest accidental comedy for Joynson-Hicks’ consideration.

Mark Fitzpatrick / Comedywildlifephoto.com

He'll tell you where to shove your EAC

The mission statement for the project reads, “Through the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, we aim to widen understanding and engagement of a sustainable world — and wildlife conservation specifically — for the preservation of biodiversity and the health and enrichment of everyone on Earth.” They believe that they can achieve these admittedly lofty goals by engaging with people’s empathy through humor. After all, who doesn’t love a picture of a monkey getting hit in the nuts?

Ken Jensen / Comedywildlifephoto.com

Like a scene out of Idiocracy

“A funny animal photo is incredibly effective because there are no barriers to understanding, or taboos that must be negotiated,” their website reads. “It taps into the impulse for anthropomorphism (big word!) which is well-documented as one of the most powerful triggers for human empathy. To really understand animals and the issues that affect them, you need to empathise with them as fellow inhabitants of the same planet.”

With their high ambitions and wholesome humor, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have managed to make some of the most uplifting and accessible comedy content on the internet. This year’s contest is shaping up to be a slugfest — those dropkicking kangaroos don’t look too keen on losing a fight.

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