Let’s face it: animals steal the show. Whether we’re on an exotic safari or just a cross-state road trip, spotting animals is almost always the highlight, no matter how gorgeous the scenery. And if the critter is especially cute? We know what happens next—the camera comes out and the photo snapping begins.
So when we asked our community members for their favorite nature shots, we weren’t surprised to get lots of animal images that came with a high awww factor. After all, once you’ve taken pictures of cute animals, it’s only natural to want to share them.
And until November 29, you can vote for your favorite animals—along with the other finalists in the nature category—in our photo contest.
Of course, it’s not easy to capture images of animals, whether or not they’re cute. Sure, some may seem like they’re preening for the camera, but if they spot dinner—or if dinner spots them—the moment can be quickly lost. And you can’t exactly come back when the light is optimal. But when everything comes together—cute animal, great scenery, perfect light—you could have an award-winning photograph.
Monkeys often make for especially great cute-animal photos—chalk it up to their similarity to us mixed with their cuddly looks (just don’t try to pet one!). One example in our collection is a photo of two monkeys: one has an expression of flabbergasted shock; the other huddles close, baring its teeth. Are they playing? Fending off a threat? Either way, their stacked heads create a very cute image.
But cuteness is by no means limited to monkeys or cats—cute animals can take just about any form. One reader sent in a photo of a group of playful otters swimming together, two of them with their mouths wide open in what can only be described as gleeful grins. You can almost hear them promising perfect water temperature and urging you to jump in.
So read on to see the cutest of the cute animal photos (and there were a lot!). Click through the slideshow, then vote in our photo contest, either for one of the cute animal finalists or for one of the arresting nature scenes.