Sam Rowley / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The London Natural History Museum's annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition offers the public a chance to vote on their favorite images from the contest.
The people's choice award went to a photo of two mice squabbling over food scraps on a London Underground platform.
The list of runners-up includes photos of an orphaned rhino and its surrogate parent, a herd of reindeer camouflaged in the snow, and a dressed-up orangutan.
Here are the top photographs from this year's contest.
Two mice locked in paw-to-paw combat over their dinner has been named the most popular wildlife photo of 2019.
Each year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest offers a peek into the lives of species around the world. It's developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London, and awards photographers whose work inspires us to consider our place in the natural world and our responsibility to protect it.
The public's favorite photo, taken by Sam Rowley, shows two mice fighting over scraps of food on a London Underground platform. The rodents' squabble only lasted a split second, Rowley said. Then one mouse grabbed the crumb and the subterranean denizens went their separate ways.
Rowley added that eh wasn't afraid to lie down on the train platform in order to capture the mouse duel.
"I hope it shows people the unexpected drama found in the most familiar of urban environments," he said in a press release.
The contest organizers curated a shortlist of front-runners for the people's choice award. Many of those images, including four "highly commended" runners-up, throw into sharp relief the relationships between creatures — mothers and cubs, predators and prey, people and animals. One photo captures a baby jaguar and its mother toting a large anaconda, while another shows a herd of camouflaged reindeer.
Here are the other top photographs from this year's people's choice contest.
Photographer Francis De Andres named this photo "Spot the Reindeer" — and for good reason.
Francis De Andres/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
This image was one of four "highly commended" runners-up in the people's choice award contest.
De Andres braved the freezing temperatures of Norway's Svalbard archipelago to capture these camouflaged, yet curious, white arctic reindeer.
Another highly commended image shows a jaguar cub helping its mother carry a giant anaconda out of the Três Irmãos river in Brazil.
Michel Zoghzoghi / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The two hunters and their prey mesmerized photographer Michel Zoghzoghi, who was boating on the river.
Jaguars are known to eat snakes, fish, turtles, deer, tapirs, and caimans.
Orangutans have been used in performances at Safari World in Bangkok (and many other locations) for decades, despite opposition from animal-rights advocates.
Aaron Gekoski/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
In 2004, the shows were temporarily halted due to international outcry. But today, they continue. Twice a day, hundreds of people pay to watch orangutans box, dance, and play the drums.
This runner-up photo by Aaron Gekoski, shows one of these animals sitting morosely, clad in boxing shorts and gloves.
The final highly commended photo shows an orphaned black rhino named Kitui with its surrogate parent.
Martin Buzora / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Park ranger Elias Mugambi often spends weeks away from his own family caring for orphaned black rhinos like Kitui.
The orphans are placed in wildlife sanctuaries like this one after their mothers are killed by poachers.
Kenyan photographer Clement Mwangi's photo, titled "What a poser," was chosen as one of 17 other front-runners in the contest.
Clement Mwangi / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Mwangi said that sometimes as a wildlife photographer, you can miss the exceptional while looking for the unusual.
He spent time observing this leopard in Maasai Mara National Reserve as she soaked up the warm rays of the setting sun.
Photographer Ingo Ardnt captured another serene wildcat on camera in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park. He followed these pumas for over two years.
Ingo Ardnt / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
This female eventually became so used to his presence that one day she fell asleep while Ardnt was nearby. That enabled him to capture this portrait of her relaxed face as she awoke.
Mothers and their young make for especially compelling wildlife photography. In this image, Marion Volborn caught a grizzly mother and her cub scratching that unreachable itch.
Marion Volborn / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
During a trip to the Nakina River in British Columbia, Volborn spotted this bear and her cub approaching a tree. After the grizzly started to rub her back against the trunk, the cub imitated its mother.
Volborn titled this picture "Mother knows best."
This Caribbean flamingo's shock of pink hides her baby, which pokes out from under its mother's wing to be fed.
Claudio Contreras Koob / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in Mexico's Yucatán state is home to the country's largest flock of Caribbean flamingos. This chick is less than five days old; after another week, it will leave its nest and join other youngsters in the colony.
Photographer Steve Levi spent 10 days searching for this polar bear mother and her cubs in Manitoba, Canada.
Steve Levi / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Levi encountered this polar bear family in March, before they began a long journey north to the sea ice, where the mother could feed.
But not all animals are lucky enough to live with their mothers or families.
Marcus Westberg / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Giant-panda breeding centers like the one pictured above are growing in popularity in China.
According to photographer Marcus Westberg, it's unclear how these centers benefit the species, since wild pandas are increasing in number and many breeders lack a realistic plan for how to release the pandas into the wild.
Some animal moms-to-be, meanwhile, start preparing for the big event before their offspring arrives. At first glance, photographer Stefan Christmann thought these emperor penguins were caring for an egg. It turned out to be a snowball.
Stefan Christmann / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The photographer thinks this penguin couple was practicing transferring the snowball between them as if it were an egg.
A female emperor penguin typically lays one egg a year in May or June. Then she must carefully transfer the egg to her partner, who keeps the egg safe in a pouch between its legs. Males hold and warm the eggs for months while the females return to the sea to feed.
Emperor penguins form colonies that can include up to 25,000 individuals. Photographer Yaz Loukhal took a helicopter flight then trekked through thick snow in order to photograph this group.
Yaz Loukhal / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
His efforts earned him an incredible view of the colony.
Photographer Michael Schober's image showcases a different type of animal clan: a huddle of Austrian marmots. He titled the photo "Family get-together."
Michael Schober / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Marmots have become accustomed to the presence of humans in Austria's Hohe Tauern National Park. Allowing people to observe and photograph them at close range benefits the marmots, since human company deters predators like golden eagles.
Whales also travel in groups — theirs are called pods — and hunt cooperatively. Photographer Jake Davis snapped this photo of a humpback whale diving for fish while its pod swam nearby.
Jake Davis / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
This pod was carrying out a type of hunting called bubble-net feeding. Once the leader whale locates fish, the other members of the pod swim in circles while blowing bubbles out their blowholes. This action creates a natural net, trapping the fish for a feast.
Fish often swim in schools for protection from predators. Photographer David Doubilet captured the silhouettes of red tooth triggerfish in the Philippines.
David Doubilet / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
These fish floated above a school of convict blennies, a type of tiny goby fish. The Pacific coral below them is found in the Verde Island Passage: a strait that separates the Philippine islands of Luzon and Mindoro. It's one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world.
In order to start a family, some males have to first win a partner's affection. In this photo, a female kestrel has accepted an offering from a male suitor.
Marco Valentini / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Photographer Marco Valentini was visiting Hungary's Hortobágyi National Park when he spotted these two kestrels displaying typical courtship behavior.
The dead lizard could represent the beginning of the kestrels' relationship.
A baby tarantula made for a nice meal for this rainforest frog.
Lucas Bustamente / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Photographer Lucas Bustamente's spotted this labiated rainfrog enjoying its dinner while he was on a night hike in the Ecuadorian jungle.
In a distant climate, Norwegian photographer Audun Rikardsen captured a different type of predator: a golden eagle. It took three years of planning to get this shot.
Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Finally, the golden eagle became curious about Rikardsen's camera, the photographer said.
Photographer Valeriy Maleev caught another rarely seen snow-dwelling predator on camera: a Pallas's cat.
Valeriy Maleev / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Maleev braved negative-44-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures to witness this rare scene in the Mongolian highlands. Pallas's cats are no bigger than a domestic cat; they stalk small rodents, birds, and occasionally even insects.
Elsewhere in Mongolia, Maleev also snapped a photo of a long-eared jerboa scuttling through the Gobi Desert.
Valeriy Maleev / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The aptly named long-eared jerboa uses its big ears to dissipate excess body heat to stay cool.
Jerboas are hopping rodents that can travel at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. Each critter has its own solitary burrow.
Creatures of different species come into conflict, too. In this photo, an aloof kestrel sits above an annoyed magpie on the dead flower spike of an agave plant.
Salvador Colvée Nebot / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Over several months, photographer Salvador Colvée Nebot watched various birds use this agave bloom in Valencia, Spain as a perch before descending to a nearby pond.
According to Nebot, a pair of kestrels were frequent perchers, though they got hassled by magpies during each visit.
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