Flashes of animal magic as stunning wildlife photos go on display at zoo

Award-winning animal photography featuring some truly breathtaking images has gone on display at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

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Overall winner: Panther Chameleon by Simone SbaragliaOverall winner: Panther Chameleon by Simone Sbaraglia
Overall winner: Panther Chameleon by Simone Sbaraglia

A new temporary exhibition at the zoo launched today features winning entries from the ZSL’s annual Animal Photography Prize, chosen by judges including TV’s Kate Humble and ornithologist Bill Oddie.

The top prize was given to photographer Simone Sbaraglia for this stunning image of a striking panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) above, framed by a backdrop of jungle foliage, as it snares its prey with alarming accuracy.

Mr Sbaraglia spent days waiting to capture the perfect shot, in a bid to encourage more people to connect with nature.

He said: “I spent a significant amount of time trying to learn the animal’s behaviour to try and anticipate this moment. I hope that when people see it they are amazed by this animal and learn to love and respect it.”

Other images on display in the exhibition include a captivating black and white close-up of a mighty orangutan, and the joyful shot of a Gentoo penguin leaping over waves.

The judges were impressed by the unusual angle of the zebra in Sally’s picture, which was actually captured at Whipsnade Zoo, and her editing skills in transforming the background and creating an impressive contrasting effect with the zebra’s patterns.

A Striking Pose by Sally KilpinA Striking Pose by Sally Kilpin
A Striking Pose by Sally Kilpin

Speaking when she first found out she was a category winner, Sally said: “I am shocked and humbled. It is an immense honour ... especially with such stiff competition from across the globe.

“I’m very excited to see the image on display so close to home at Whipsnade Zoo, back in the place where I captured it!”

The images have been blown up onto impressive boards and will be on display throughout 2015.

The competition, run by international conservation charity, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), is now in its third year, and has six categories for adult and junior entrants, including Last Chance to See and Size Matters. The winning images were chosen by a panel of judges.

Singing In The Rain by Jason BrownSinging In The Rain by Jason Brown
Singing In The Rain by Jason Brown

ZSL’s events manager Victoria Sage said: “The winning pictures in the 2014 ZSL Animal Photography Prize are quite simply some of the most incredible images we’ve seen yet.

“We had a huge variety of entries from around the world, and the judges, including ornithologist Bill Oddie and television presenter Kate Humble, had their work cut out to select the winning shots.”

Those inspired to dig out their cameras can be reassured that there is still time to enter the 2015 competition. As well as the opportunity to win a share of the £10k prize fund, the competition gives photographers the chance of having their image displayed in exhibitions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and ZSL London Zoo.

Cute animal alert: Check out the video above of a newborn pygmy hippo at Whipsnade Zoo

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