The internet, with its plethora of adorable animal videos, is basically one big homage to the critters inhabiting Planet Earth alongside us. But while brave baby elephants and orangutan and hound dog BFF's are “aww-inducing,” the animal portraits submitted to the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest are downright awe-inspiring. There’s still three weeks left in this year’s competition, but as an homage to our furry, feathered, slimy, scaled friends, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite wildlife shots submitted so far.
Technically, animal portraits are just one category in the NatGeo competition. The judges are also on the lookout for stunning landscapes, action shots, and unique perspectives on environmental issues, and the grand prize is a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos with National Geographic Expeditions, plus two 15-minute image portfolio reviews with NatGeo photo editors. Feeling compelled to enter pictures from your own globe-trotting adventures? Click here to submit your work to the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest before November 4.