• December 23, 2014

Pictures We Love: Our Animal Connection

Proof Staff

At National Geographic, photography is what holds our stories together and what makes them shine. It’s what we do the best and love the most. Our photo editors work with thousands of images every year (if not every day) and so we asked each of them—editors from National Geographic Magazine, News, Traveler, Your Shot, and Proof—to share one picture that stood out for them in 2014. We didn’t ask them to talk about the “best” photo, but the one that resonated with them the most. Over the coming days, we’ll bring you their personal reflections and share the heart of what we’ve been up to this year.

Sebastián García relaxes with his dog after roping a bull. The unequivocal brutality of rounding up feral livestock is offset by a deep tenderness between men and dogs. ''Without them we are nothing,'' he says.
Sebastián García relaxes with his dog after roping a bull. The unequivocal brutality of rounding up feral livestock is offset by a deep tenderness between men and dogs. “Without them we are nothing,” he says.
Cowboys on the Edge,” December 2014
Photograph by Tomás Munita
Melody Rowell, Photo Coordinator, National Geographic Magazine

My reflection on this photo can’t be said better than the caption, but to me, the intimacy is striking—both between viewer and photograph, and man and dog. We’re being let in on a moment in this story, obviously taken in a quiet pause after something gruesome that man and dog endured together.

Mr. Ozzy, bath day
Mr. Ozzy, bath day
Not Your Average Pet,” September 2014
Photograph by Ana Rosenberg, National Geographic Your Shot
Monica Corcoran, Senior Managing Editor, Your Shot

One of the elements of a great photo is that it stays with you long past the first viewing. There is something in the picture that your mind keeps coming back to—that you find yourself thinking about months later. This simple yet endearing image of a young boy giving his guinea pig a bath does that for me.

Over the past three years, I’ve lost three beloved members of my pet family, one each year. Some of them needed extra special care, such as baths, during their final months with us. Having a pet is a serious commitment and you can tell from the expression on this boy’s face he realizes that. When I published this photo in a Your Shot story, I first liked the subtle use of natural light to set the mood and highlight what’s important. It was a sweet and funny capture that shows the rubber ducky and guinea pig seemingly in mid-conversation discussing the indignity of bath day. However, now what I love most about it are the memories it triggers of all the furry friends I’ve loved and cared for over the years. And for that I’d like to thank Mr. Ozzy.

Florida animal trainer Pamela Rosaire Zoppe bought Chance from pet owners who could no longer keep him. He now appears in Hollywood films. ''Chimps are so intelligent that they get  bored,''she says.
Florida animal trainer Pamela Rosaire Zoppe bought Chance from pet owners who could no longer keep him. He now appears in Hollywood films. “Chimps are so intelligent that they get bored,” she says.
Wild Obsession,” April 2014
Photograph by Vincent J. Musi
Jake Rutherford, Photo Coordinator, National Geographic Magazine

My paradigm is that good photography should conjure more questions than it answers. Much more. Vince’s photo of the four-year-old Chimpanzee, Chance, carries this essential quality.

It may be that I’m going through an obsession with Ape-dom this year, but this photo pulls my wonder strings. Should I feel lonely for Chance? Does he feel at ease or boxed and bored in a prison of humanity? His pensive, amber-eyed gaze provokes deep contemplation: What are chimpanzees’ potential, and what is our responsibility as their proverbial big brothers?

As it should, this image guides me through these questions with comparison, then contrast, and ultimately down the road of compassion.

Browse more of our favorite images from 2014 in these related “Pictures We Love” posts:

There are 27 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Miguel Angel
    May 12, 2015

    Awesome Pictures. Congratulatios to the Photographers!!!

  2. long pham
    May 3, 2015


  3. Delia
    March 27, 2015

    Nice pictures

  4. str
    March 22, 2015


  5. Abhishek
    March 7, 2015

    really perfect timing because they can’t make them do so

  6. Pet Products
    February 12, 2015

    These photographs show really a connection between man and pets. The collection is superb . I am a pet lover and i know what all these small gestures mean and count.

  7. M.Kumar
    January 30, 2015

    Very Nice Pitures

  8. Tom Mitchener
    January 7, 2015

    Great photos

  9. Jim Richardson
    January 6, 2015

    For me looking at Chance brings up one simple thought: he’s one of us.

  10. thomas davis
    January 2, 2015

    the teacher is always the one in front of us . when the student is ready the teacher appears. the photos teach viewers of their values , prejudices , their projections . all the pictures have merit . all ‘reality’ is subject to the ego which filters it .lets us be shepherds for all things natural rather than controllers; fixing what is never broke so that humanity may feel superior. peace for all animals.

  11. Norain
    January 2, 2015

    Caring an animal is a good medicine

  12. K
    December 31, 2014

    I like that Jake asked the big questions. He speculated without his bias and assumptions. The comments to follow, however, are grating and assumptive. Sure he’s a show chimp. So is Miley Cyrus. Nobody’s starting a foundation for her. He may not be in his “natural environment” but I’m seeing contemplation, not misery. He’s much classier than Miley, I might add. I question the commenters thoughts on evolution. Are we one DNA link away from being him? If so would the commenters say the same things about a man contemplating what lies beyond that window? We are not talking about the plight of movie or circus animals in general. We are talking about this chimp specifically, so relax… Notice the curtains. Notice the weather beyond the glass. Is that a man mowing the lawn while the chimp watches on in leisure? Notice the odd choice of painting for such an elegant room. The suede on the couch. Notice his calm demeanor. Would you consider a police dog in misery? Or even your pet? I see no difference outside of THIS picture.

  13. Jyoti Yelagalawadi
    December 30, 2014

    The guinea pig really does bring up childhood memories. Very poignant pictures each one of them.

  14. Lisa
    December 30, 2014

    The chimp’s expression is relaxed. Look at it again.

  15. JayneE
    December 30, 2014

    Chance is an exploited circus chimp, owned by the Rosaires who’ve been cited multiple times by the USDA for their unsafe and inadequate housing conditions:
    The circus they lease their chimps and other animals to for performances, UniverSoul, has also been cited for AWA violations.
    (http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/pdf/Universoul-pdf.pdf) This definitely isn’t a picture to love.

  16. Teresa
    December 30, 2014

    great !

  17. Elmarie Wepener
    December 30, 2014

    Lovely best friends.

  18. Richard Prins
    December 30, 2014

    The chimpanzee doesn’t belong in such an environment, nor, rather obviously, in the entertainment industry.

  19. Brent
    December 29, 2014

    I was under the impression that chimps in movies was bad for the chimpanzees. It made sense in the context I was seeing. Why would Nat Geo publish this pic? Was I led astray?

  20. AlbertL
    December 28, 2014

    @Robin Winkelman….just because some entertainment animals might have tough lives doesn’t mean they all do. Stop being so biased.

  21. ژاله حیدری
    December 28, 2014


  22. Marcus hart
    December 27, 2014

    I love the little teddy monkey with the thumbs up in the left hand corner

  23. isabel Hernández tibau
    December 27, 2014

    preciosas fotos y buenísimas historias!!

  24. Robin Winkelman
    December 27, 2014

    sad to see an entertainment chimp in one of the pics.These chimps lead terrible lives

  25. vance
    December 25, 2014

    It is never the size of them. It is the innocent purpose, amid the buzz of civilization that one can so easily see in their eyes.

    Thank you very much for reminding us.

  26. Shruts
    December 25, 2014

    Lovely 🙂

  27. Alan Warner
    December 24, 2014

    The power of an image is in it’s ability to go beyond Beaty and become thought provoking. These few examples do just that.

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