The two lions gently touched their foreheads together, eyes closed, and paused — a tender and unusual moment.
London photographer David Lloyd spotted the cats — brothers, most likely — in Tanzania in March 2015 and trained his camera.
The resulting image, “Bond of Brothers,” won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award from London’s Natural History Museum.
Lloyd said he finds himself drawn to the perceptive nature of animals that often goes overlooked.
“The greet lasted a lot longer than the usual three or five seconds, it was almost half a minute of nuzzle and gentle head butt,” he said.
“There was no doubt the high level of emotion, feeling, respect and dependability between these two for each other.”
The photograph won out of 25 images compiled by the Natural History Museum as part of its 2018 competition, which received 45,000 submissions.
“Lions are individuals with complex social bonds, and David’s winning picture provides a glimpse into their inner world,” Michael Dixon, the museum’s director, said in a statement.
Rounding out the top five photographs for the award are images of a starved polar bear in the Canadian Arctic and a fox finding his own likeness in a London mural.
As a complementary award to Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the People’s Choice award honors outstanding nature photography as decided by the public. (which photo was peoples’ choice?)
Last year’s winner featured a gorilla saved from a bushmeat market, resting drowsily in the arms of the man who helped rescue her. See that image and more from 2017’s competition in the gallery below.
Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner
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