Heartwarming Moment Wins Wildlife Photographer Of The Year People’s Choice Award

David Lloyd's winning photograph “Bond of Brothers” highlights the perceptive nature, affection, and emotional bonds of these amazing animals, so often portrayed as hunters and fighters. David Lloyd/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award winners have been announced, and as always, they inspire a range of emotions, from humor to awe to heartbreak.

Now in its 54th year, the Natural History Museum, London’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year never fails to capture the public’s imagination, and the LUMIX People’s Choice Award allows those nature-lovers to get involved and choose their favorite.

From a shortlist of 25 finalists, whittled down from 45,000 photos, 16,000 voted, and the people have spoken. The winning image has been revealed as London-based photographer David Lloyd’s stunning “Bond of Brothers”.

Capturing a tender moment between two male lions, most likely brothers, in the Ndutu area of the Serengeti, Tanzania, Lloyd said he was honored to have witnessed such a sentient moment between animals. The lions greeted each other, rubbed faces and nuzzled for around 30 seconds, an unusually long time, but long enough for him to capture it.

“I’m so pleased that this image did well, because it illustrates the emotion and feeling of animals and emphasizes that this is not limited to humans,” David said in a statement. “It is something I think more people need to be aware of for the sake of all animals.”

“Lions are individuals with complex social bonds, and David’s winning picture provides a glimpse into their inner world. A truly stunning photograph, this intimate portrait reminds us that humans aren’t the only sentient beings on this planet,” Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, said. “I hope the empathy and wonder garnered by this image will inspire more people to become advocates for nature.”

Four images were "Highly Commended", capturing wildlife in its many different forms, from an urban fox taking in the street art of London, to the painfully thin and poignant polar bear in the Canadian Arctic.

You can see the entire Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, including the LUMIX People’s Choice winners at the Natural History Museum, London until June 30.

"Fox Meets Fox" by Matthew Maran. Matthew has been photographing foxes close to his home in north London for over a year and ever since spotting this street art had dreamt of capturing this image. After countless hours and many failed attempts, his persistence paid off. Matthew Maran/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

It's easy to see why this image captured the public's heart. You can't help but smile at both the ordinariness and the extraordinary of this moment.

"One Toy, Three Dogs" by Bence Mate. While adult African wild dogs are merciless killers, their pups are extremely cute and play all day long. Bence photographed these brothers in Mkuze, South Africa – they all wanted to play with the leg of an impala and were trying to drag it in three different directions! Bence Mate/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This image of wild dogs in South Africa makes you look, and then look again when you realize what they're holding. The wild is pretty wild.

"Three Kings" by Wim van den Heever. Wim came across these king penguins on a beach in the Falkland Islands just as the Sun was rising. They were caught up in a fascinating mating behavior – the two males were constantly moving around the female using their flippers to fend the other off. Wim-Van-Den-Heever, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

No, they are not arguing over directions or who is right, this is mating behavior.

"A Polar Bear’s Struggle" by Justin Hofman. Justin’s whole body pained as he watched this starving polar bear at an abandoned hunter's camp, in the Canadian Arctic, slowly heave itself up to standing. With little, and thinning, ice to move around on, the bear is unable to search for food. Justin Hofman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This heartbreaking image probably stayed with people long after they first saw it. Like last year's winning photograph of a young gorilla destined to be sold for bush meat being held by her rescuer, it highlight's how humanity's influence on the natural world can be devastating, and hopefully serves as a reminder we can still make a difference.   

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