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The Perfect Moment runner up (adult) - THE STRONGEST BOND, Tom Way // ZSL London Zoo

The London Zoo Celebrates Animal Photography With Contest and Exhibition

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The Perfect Moment runner up (adult) - THE STRONGEST BOND, Tom Way // ZSL London Zoo

To see lions cuddle, sea turtles dive, and tailless bats awkwardly lick stuff mid-flight, you'd probably have to change your name to Jack Hanna. Or as an alternative, you can check out the Zoological Society of London's Animal Photography Prize exhibition, currently on view at the London Zoo until February 2016. The exhibition features the winning photos from this year's ZSL Animal Photography Prize, with entries from both adult and junior photographers from around the world.

According to a ZSL press release, each of the photos was judged based on "technical excellence" and how well they "capture the essence of the animal world." The pool of over 450 entries was narrowed down by a panel of expert judges, and this September, winners in both divisions were selected in six categories: "The Perfect Moment," "Last Chance to See," "Weird and Wonderful," "Size Matters," "The Birds and the Bees," and "Deep and Meaningful," with the overall winners named as the Judge's Choice.

The overall adult winner of the fourth annual contest is Andy Skillen, who, according to ZSL, had to get into the water at Lake Clark National Park to photograph a female grizzly bear with Alaskan mountain peaks in the distance. The Judge's Choice and "Perfect Moment" winner for the junior division is a photo of a wet cormorant taken at London's Hyde Park by Gideon Knight, who says that he spent hours photographing the animals because he wanted to "draw people’s attention to these fantastic birds."

Check out a few of the best images from 2015 contest below, and head to the ZSL London Zoo website to register for the 2016 edition.

Judge's Choice winner and Size Matters (adult)- TIMELESS, Andy Skillen // ZSL London Zoo

Judge's Choice winner and The Perfect Moment (junior) - DROPLETS, Gideon Knight // ZSL London Zoo


The Perfect Moment runne up (adult)- Anoura Geoffroy's tailless bat, Nicolas Reusens // ZSL London Zoo


Deep and Meaningful runner up (adult) - TURTLE PORTRAIT, Michael Gallagher // ZSL London Zoo 


The Birds and the Bees winner (adult) - A PRESENT FOR MY LOVE, John Gooday // ZSL London Zoo


Last Chance to See runner up (junior) - SLEEPING BEAUTY, Tianha Williams// ZSL London Zoo
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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
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RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages

Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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