Thanks to its adorable chubby cheeks and silly dashing gait, a wild European hamster has stolen the show at the 2015 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards or CWPA. The humorous photo titled "Rush Hour" nabbed top honors in the inaugural competition.
Distinguished for its lighthearted focus on the giggle-inducing, serendipitous side of wildlife photography, the photo contest aims to highlight technically excellent images that showcase "the funny side of the majestic creatures we love to photograph and protect."
CWPA founder Paul Joynson-Hicks was inspired to establish the contest through his own experience as a wildlife photographer. As he explains on the competition's website, "I often enter wildlife photography competitions (so far with very little success!), but I love seeing the funny pictures. Strangely enough, they are harder to come by than you might think."
Julian Rad, the Austrian photographer responsible for the winning
hamster image, was awarded with an impressive array of prizes, including
a trophy, a Nikon D750 camera and a seven-day guided photo safari trip to
Tanzania. Meanwhile, the photographers responsible for the silver and bronze award-winning
images (below) were awarded some enviable Nikon
'You haven't seen me...': Silver runner-up
'Nearly got it': Bronze runner-up
Before the winners were announced, an esteemed panel of judges sifted through more than 1,500 entries, narrowing them down to 45 finalists. Once the judges had made their final decisions, the winners were announced in a special ceremony in London in November.
"Judging this competition was always going to be fun, but it was also surprisingly difficult. The standard of photography was incredibly high, with a huge range of subjects," explains judge Kate Humble, who is well-known in Britain as a wildlife and travel TV personality. "Not only did we laugh a lot, we were also all reminded of the wide and wonderful variety of creatures we are lucky enough to share our planet with."
Continue below to see a selection of the contest photos honored as "Highly Commended."