Is this monkey really cuddling a pet mongoose?

Is this monkey really cuddling a pet mongoose?

Is this monkey really cuddling a pet mongoose?

A moment of tenderness or something more sinister?

The image appears to show a bonobo cuddling a small mongoose as a valuable pet. But instead, maybe the monkey brought the mongoose baby to dinner after killing its mother.

But that would be unusual: Bonobos eat mostly fruit and hunt only occasionally.

The intriguing behavior was photographed by Christian Ziegler in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

His charming photo was selected as a highly praised image in the Natural History Museum’s 58th Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) competition.

The shortlist was revealed on Thursday and the overall winners will be announced at London’s Natural History Museum (NHM) in October.

Christian had followed the group of bonobos “chest-deep through flooded forest” in Salonga National Park for days when he saw the young male holding a juvenile mongoose.

“I was so surprised to see how he carried the mongoose with such care. I immediately started following him and documenting him,” he told BBC News.

The monkey held and stroked the little mongoose for over an hour, he said.

But he may have planned on eating it. When bonobos catch prey, they don’t kill it immediately, but start eating while it’s still alive, according to Dr. Barbara Fruth, director of the LuiKotale Bonobo Project who has been observing these animals for over 20 years.

But occasionally, if the dinner is too large and the monkey fills up, it will treat the remaining living prey as pets. Usually, these animals are subsequently eaten.

Dr Fruth believes this is likely what was happening in the photo.

Emphasize that bonobos are known for their gentle, empathetic, and peaceful natures.

“We know from captivity that bonobos care for individuals other than their own species,” he says. In the wild, a bonobo is unlikely to care for another species as a long-term pet, she adds.

But it does not rule out the idea that monkeys keep other animals as accessories to attract the interest of the other members of the group and thus increase their status.

Eventually, this mongoose had a happy ending: the bonobo eventually released its “pet”, which then came out unscathed.

The mystery behind the photo is part of its attraction to the Natural History Museum contest judges.

Natural History Museum senior researcher Dr. Natalie Cooper narrowed down nearly 40,000 entries across 20 categories with her fellow judges. “We’re looking for technically, really brilliant images, the ones you see once and wake up in the morning still thinking,” she says.

WPY has become one of the most prestigious competitions of its kind. For this year’s event, submissions were received from 93 countries.

The winners of the category and the Grand Prize will be announced during a ceremony at the Natural History Museum on 11 October. The museum will then open its annual exhibition of the best photos on October 14.

The right look by Richard Robson, New Zealand

In Richard Robson’s image, he and his camera have become the object of the charm of this young southern right whale. The encounter lasted 30 minutes, with the whale circling around him, swimming away and then returning for another look.

Whales were hunted almost to extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries, but the southern right whale population, known as “tohorā” in Māori, is now recovering after hunting has been banned.

Category – Portraits of animals

Video: Southern right whales: monitoring unexpected migrations in the Southern Ocean

Underwater wonderland of Tiina Törmänen, Finland

A school of curious perch met photographer Tiina Törmänen during her snorkel on the lake in Posio, Lapland.

Excessive cloud-like algal growth, the result of climate change and water warming, can cause problems for aquatic life when it consumes oxygen and blocks sunlight.

Category – Underwater

The lost floods of Jasper Doest, Zambia

Dutch photographer Jasper Doest captured Lubinda Lubinda, station manager for the Zambezi River Authority, in front of her new home (right) which didn’t need to build as high as her last due to the levels of the lower water. Climate change and deforestation have caused the Zambezi floodplain to suffer more drought.

Discussing the image, Dr. Natalie Cooper said, “We can talk about climate change until we’re blue in the face, but until you see the reality of the problem on the screen in front of you, it’s hard to connect with that topic.” .

Polar frame by Dmitry Kokh, Russia

More than 20 polar bears have conquered the island of Kolyuchin, Russia, abandoned since 1992, in search of food. With climate change reducing sea ice, polar bears are finding it harder to hunt, pushing them closer to human settlements to forage for food. A low-noise drone was used to capture the striking image.

Category – Portraits of animals

Treefrog Pool Party by Brandon Güell, Costa Rica

Here the photographer forded the water at chest height to capture a breeding frenzy at dawn. You can almost hear the mating calls of the male climbing tree frogs as the females lay their eggs in the palm fronds – about 200 at a time – which later fall into the water below like tadpoles.

Category – Behavior: Amphibians and Reptiles

The Snow Deer by Joshua Cox, age 8, UK

Joshua is now eight, but he was only six when this majestic deer snapped during a heavy snowfall in Richmond Park, London. He started using a toy camera when he was just a kid and switched to a compact camera not long before this photo was taken. “It almost felt like it was raining snow,” Joshua said.

Category – 10 years and under

You can see highly praised photographs from all categories on the Natural History Museum website.

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