These Are Our Best Animal Photos of 2021

With another year of facing a number of trials and tribulations, it can be easy for humanity to lose sight of the simpler things that are taken for granted. As we close out 2021, we might find ourselves more distracted than ever; absently scrolling through our phones, while the TV buzzes in the background, never fully paying attention to our surroundings because there is just so much noise. Our animal friends, however, are moving along with their eyes on the prize; adapting while acting natural, remaining fully cognizant of their environment, and just going with the flow. After viewing these pictures, you’ll think to yourself, “hey, I could learn a thing or two from these creatures.” We’re not so different after all, you know!

Polar Bears know how to pal around

If you have siblings or a best friend from the neighborhood where you grew up, you might fondly remember the first snow of the season. The snow packs tight, and you bust out your sleigh or start packing some snowballs. You’d run around outside until your cheeks were pink, and maybe your roughhousing went a little too far. These bear cubs are enjoying the same activities that we do as they playfully barrel down the hill and maybe collide a little too hard together. While the cubs may miss out on the hot cocoa, maybe we’re missing out on some of the winter fun we tend to neglect as we get older.

Polar Bears in Manitoba, Canada by @daisygilardini
Polar Bears in Manitoba, Canada by @daisygilardini

Cold blooded creatures share a warm embrace

Our amphibian friends share shelter under a flower while they wait for the storm to break. While the environment may sometimes be tumultuous, and the sky dark, sometimes it just takes the comfort of a friend or partner to help weather the storm. It can’t rain all the time, but when it does, we can get by with a little help from our friends.

Frogs by @ajarsetiadi
Frogs by @ajarsetiadi

Never be afraid to show your true colors

While we differ greatly from the entire gamut of avian creatures, they sure know how to strut their stuff. Whether their posture is for attracting a mate, feeding their young, or fighting off a predator, we are taught that a little confidence can go a long way. While we’ve all faced uncertainties, birds like the Mandarin Duck and Keel Billed Toucan remind us that if you stand straight and show your true colors

Mandarin duck by @eccentricwildlife
Mandarin duck by @eccentricwildlife
Keel billed Toucan by @floriankusterwildlife
Keel billed Toucan by @floriankusterwildlife

The majestic mane of the mighty Lion;

If one word could be used to describe the lion, it would be “stoic.” The leader of a lion pack is fearless, decisive, brave, and loyal. There is an old proverb that states, “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” While we don’t mean to be throwing shade at the sheep, the saying does powerfully demonstrate the lion’s greater qualities that we could all strive to duplicate.

Lion by @charlysavely
Lion by @charlysavely

The introverted qualities of the Red Panda

Sometimes the urge to say what’s on our minds is overwhelming, but sometimes it’s better to sit back, and wait for the right time to speak. The Red Panda is lesser known than the black and white pandas we’re used to seeing because they’re a little more elusive, and a little more solitary. While more closely related to raccoons than Pandas, they are okay with the lone endeavor, and maybe a little bit of self-reflection. It’s easy to compare how they hang out on a high and thick branch to reading a book on your windowsill.

Red Panda by @niko_redpanda
Red Panda by @niko_redpanda

Elephants walk the infinite horizon

Sometimes the best way to live life is by continuing to move forward. Elephants walking across the plains are an example of this sentiment. Side by side, they can weather the heat and terrain. While it’s true that elephants have a fantastically long memory, they still set their gazes straight ahead as they step toward the future with each heavy stride.

Amboseli National Park, Kenya by @santoshsaligram
Amboseli National Park, Kenya by @santoshsaligram

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but the squirrel still prospers.

Sometimes we all just need to sit back, relax, and smell the roses. Or maybe they’re dandelions. The point is, that it’s easy to rush through things. The squirrel isn’t innocent in this, but they also know how to savor the moment. Life is full of cheap thrills and small pleasures, and the squirrel has a firm grasp on this concept.

Squirrel by @dickvanduijn
Squirrel by @dickvanduijn

The community of the Highland Cows

Known to graze in large groups, the highland cows have a strong sense of community. While 2021 has kept a lot of us socially distant and separated from our loved ones, the Highland Cows have been wholly unaffected. While it can be easy to be jealous of their inseparable bond, it’s also easy to feel a warmth in your heart knowing that some bonds really can’t be broken.

Highland Cows by @_nickbanga
Highland Cows by @_nickbanga

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