They do say never to work with animals. But when you do, you can be sure to have a story or two to tell afterward. Here at DIYP, we love wildlife and animal photography-related stories. And 2022 had a lot of good ones. So many it was tough to narrow it down.
We’ve also had more than our fair share of bear stories, almost enough, in fact, to have our own top 10 bear stories of 2022. But my editor told me not to be so silly. So here is my rundown of our best wildlife stories of 2022 (with a good few bears thrown in for good measure!)
Wildlife photographers can sometimes get a little too close to the action. This is exactly what happened to wildlife photographer and filmmaker Nick Kleer. Now meerkats are known for climbing the highest piece of ground to keep a sharp lookout, even if that mound happens to be a cameraman. The meerkats climbed up Nick to get a closer look, using him as a makeshift lookout. It’s possibly the cutest thing you’ll see all day.
This great story shows what a little bit of ingenuity can lead to. A photographer created a watering hole in the parched, barren land of Kenya and then set up cameras to see what happened. The results are this incredible series of wildlife images. The array of animals that visited the waterhole is staggering. From lions to porcupines to zebras and hyenas.
I do love penguins, so of course, I had to include this story about another close-up encounter. This penguin escaped certain death and escaped the clutches of a leopard seal by hitching a ride with a boat full of wildlife photographers. I can just see them all cursing their ultra-long lenses and reaching instead for their phones to capture the visit. Happily, the penguin was safe, and the photographers had a great story to tell when they got home.
This might just be one of my favorite stories this year. I love misapplied ingenuity, and this definitely fits that bill. A woman had a cat that took a liking to eat plastic bags. She was told to keep an eye on how much the cat was pooping to make sure it was ok and not going to get sick. So what’s a girl to do? Obviously, she created a machine learning AI program and took over 50,000 images of her cat pooping in order to train the computer to tell her how often her cat pooped. Job done, in more ways than one!
It’s the stuff of nightmares. When photographer Joel Robison returned from a trip, he discovered a new tenant inside his camera. A spider was actually living inside the viewfinder of his Sony, and he made a new website there. Seriously, the remedy to this situation surely would be to throw the camera away. However, Sony wasn’t going to get in a flap, and all ended well, with the camera being sent in for cleaning.
This series of images is spectacular. Russian photographer Dmitry Kokh photographed the polar bears in an abandoned weather station in the Arctic. The resulting images are almost a little post-apocalyptic and serve to highlight the impending doom that climate change is bringing to these magnificent animals.
Ever seen a deer playing timpani or a squirrel playing a cornet? Well, now you can, thanks to photographer Paul Koben. It’s certainly a novel approach to wildlife photography. Paul sets up the instruments in his backyard and ‘invites’ the animals to interact with them. The result is this amusing little series that really makes you want to start humming Disney songs.
So many bear stories, so little time. It was tough to choose between this story of a bratty bear cub destroying a trail camera or this one of this bear taking a four-hour siesta right in front of a trail cam. In the end, the bear siesta won. I love how he’s almost performing for the camera. It yawns luxuriously, stretches itself out, find the perfect spot, and then settles down for a very lengthy nap. All in the most perfect composition, it’s almost like it could see the camera’s flip out screen and was doing its own bear-influencer video on how to sleep in the woods.
We’ve covered a lot of scientific firsts this year. From orcas attacking great white sharks, to dolphins eating sea snakes. Perhaps my favorite, though, was this one about octopuses. I loved this story, mostly because it shows that octopuses can be just as trashy as humans. In a nutshell, scientists witnessed and filmed several different octopuses hiding from one another, almost as if they were in a dark alley. They then leaped out and threw shells and sand at each other, almost like an ambush. Thus scientists discovered that octopuses can be jerks too. Very interesting and bad behavior, and I sort of love them for it!
I do like a good animal-goes-rogue story. It’s even better when they take cameras into their own hands and become photographers or filmmakers. It’s perfect for that first animal perspective. We’ve had lions running off with cameras, but my favorite was definitely the cheeky New Zealand kea parrot that flew off with a family’s GoPro. The kea captured aerial footage of its own flight before it deposited the camera on a rock. Amazingly the family were able to find and retrieve the camera and footage!
So those are my top ten favorite animal stories from the last year. Which is your favorite?