By Maureen O’Hare, CNN
(CNN) — Prepare to chortle, titter or even guffaw, for this is the biggest moment of the year for fans of funny animal photos.
The judges of the UK-based Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards have studied more than 1,800 images submitted from 85 countries, assessing whether they are chucklesome, rib-tickling or an out-and-out hoot.
And the overall winner for 2023 – drumroll, please, for this is a photo that welcomes musical accompaniment – is a kangaroo striking an air guitar pose.
The picture of a female western grey kangaroo was taken by photographer Jason Moore early one morning in a wildflower field in the suburbs of Perth, Australia. He’s won himself a handmade trophy, a photography bag, and a one-week safari in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
There were six category winners, including young photographerJacek Stankiewicz who scooped the Junior Award with his shot of some quarrelsome greenfinches, titled “Dispute.” The Underwater category winner was a picture of a ballerina-esque otter, taken by a Singaporean photographer named Otter Kwek – either a pseudonym or a world-beating example of nominative determinism.
There were an additional 10 entries that were recognized as Highly Commended winners. They include an elegant Ubud monkey using its tail as a fake mustache, a delighted turtle befriending a dragonfly, and a high-energy joey throwing “jazz hands” in mid-air.
You can see the rest of this year’s finalists in our earlier story here.
All this comical anthropomorphization is not without its serious side, though.
The awards, founded in 2015 by professional photographers Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam, also promote wildlife conservation. This year’s competition supports Whitley Fund for Nature, a UK charity that helps fund conservationists around the world.
For the diehards, however, the LOLs don’t stop here.
The first Comedy Wildlife Guided African Safari will launch in Tanzania in October 2024, guided by the awards’ co-founders Hicks and Sullam and wildlife expert Kate Humble.
The eight-night trip costs £11,425 (about $13,900) per person for double occupancy. Watch out for side-splitting moments in those open safari vehicles – ROFL-ing your way into the path of a wildebeest migration is not recommended.
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