Cotswold Wildlife Park has announce the winners of its 2018 Photography Competition.

Visitors were invited to photograph any creature, great or small, from the collection of over one thousand mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates from all over the world. It is one of the largest and most diverse collections in the UK. Now in its sixth year, the competition included a new photographic category – Glorious Gardens. Entrants were encouraged to photograph not only the fauna but also the flora planted within 160 acres of beautiful parkland (including the year-round floral displays in the Walled Garden, exotic planting and picturesque gardens).

Beating nearly one thousand other entries, Stephen Coles won the overall competition in the adult category with his photo of the Park’s male Sloth blissfully asleep in the canopy of the Tropical House. Not only did he capture the laid-back personality of Tambopata perfectly, he also managed to take a detailed portrait of one of the Park’s most reclusive species.

Stephen explains: “We love seeing all the animals at the Park and have hundreds of great photos we’ve taken over the years, but there is always something special in capturing those more elusive creatures on camera. We happen to know most of the Sloth’s hiding spots, however, there are still times we have trouble finding them and even when we do, it is usually just an arm or clump of fur on show”.

Stephen added: “I took this photo on one of the first sunny days of spring. On this occasion, we were very lucky that Tambopata was clearly visible and seemed to be enjoying the sunshine just below the glass roof. The light was even shining on his nose. Despite being on-show, he was high in the branches on the back wall of the Tropical House, so getting the perfect shot was not straightforward. It wasn’t until I reviewed the image back at home that I knew I had captured it exactly as I had wanted. It has been one of my favourite images ever since - I even still have it as the background on my computer at work.”

The competition includes a specific category for entrants aged sixteen and under. Reuben Eves won first place in this category with his photograph entitled ‘The Ancient One’. Reuben impressed the judges with his unusual composition featuring the Crocodile Monitor Lizard - the world’s longest Monitor Lizard species. Fourteen-year-old Reuben explained: “It was nearing the end of my trip when I took the photo of the Crocodile Monitor. When I first saw it, I immediately thought it was a very photogenic animal and that it would make an interesting image subject. The Monitor was lying underneath its heat lamp that shone down on it like a spotlight. The backdrop was dark whereas the foreground was bright, which I liked. However, on its own, it was not enough to create the contrast and shadowy effect that creates that pitch-black background in the image. I decided to amplify the effect of the heat lamp by setting up my camera specifically for the picture. This allowed me to get the Monitor’s scales in detail, while drawing the viewer’s eye to the creature, as there was no backdrop. I’m so glad I was able to photograph this incredible reptile. It was both a challenge and a joy to work with”.