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Yesterday, as we announced tickets going on sale for the forthcoming Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition, we revealed three new images that will star in the exhbition that opens on 21 October here at the Museum. I'm already bewitched by this one.

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Coyote on the tracks, by Martin Cooper (Canada). Many of us Londoners will be enjoying this breathtaking image close-up before stepping inside the 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibiton. It will feature in the exhibition's publicity posters.

These early-released images join the other 105 commended and winning 2011 photographs appearing in the new exhibition in the Museum's Waterhouse gallery. In the gallery, you'll be able to see them close-up, displayed as beautiful backlit installations, with descriptions and camera details.

 

The winning and commended images were hand-picked from about 41,000 entries, that poured in to the 2011 Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. The competition office received images from 95 countries and welcomed Cambodia, Moldova, French-Polynesia, Brunei and Kyrgyzstan for the first time. The jury of photography industry experts spent three months coming to a final decision on the best photos.

 

I'm also told that the overall winner this year has now been chosen, but this information is of course shrouded in secrecy until October.

 

Martin Cooper, who snapped his coyote (above) one October dawn, recalled how the shot was taken at his favourite spot for photographing local widlife on a stretch of railway track in Burnaby, British Columbia. He was actually there waiting for a beaver, but grabbed the moment when he saw the coyote appearing from the undergrowth sniffing for the sign of rodents.

 

It's the spontaneity and the light in Martin's coyote photo that really grabs your attention, as much as the skilful photography and composition itself. And this is true of 13-year-old Ilkka Räsänen's Tern style, one of the other images revealed today (below).

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Tern style, by 13-year-old Ilkka Räsänen from Finland really impressed judges with its use of light. It's one of the highly commended images in the 11-14 year-old category of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year young competition, revealed today.

Making an impression, by the UK's awardwinning photographer Andy Rouse, is the other image we have a sneak peek at from the forthcoming exhibition. Andy's exuberant photo (below) captures Akarevuro, a young male mountain gorilla, who charged at Andy and his companions in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

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Making an impression, by Andy Rouse is highly commended in the 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition’s Behaviour: Mammals category. Look out for it in the exhibition.

 

Read the news story to find out more about the about the best wildlife photos sneak preview

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Our Sexual Nature exhibition peeps out of its gallery shell and darts onto the streets in August, with the help of the Q20 Theatre group's musical Snail Courtship Show on the South Bank.

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The Snail Courtship Show rehearsing here on the Darwin Centre Coutyard before moving to the South Bank. Select images to enlarge them

Snail courtship is one of the many weird and wonderful examples of animal mating rituals that are currently on display in our Sexual Nature exhibition.

 

'The courtship ritual of the snail can be an unusual affair,' explains the exhibition's Interpretation Developer Tate Greenhalgh. ‘Roman snails shoot darts at one another in s&m-style foreplay. These darts stimulate the partners and aid fertilisation.’

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Incidentally, Roman snails (right) - so called because it is believed that they were introduced into the UK by the Romans - are now an endangered species and have legal protection from collection, killing and trade here.

 

The live snail show performance at South Bank combines music, theatre and science to tell its sticky love story, and is an example of how the Museum is bringing the science of its exhibitions to life. Each performance runs for about 20 minutes.

 

At the show, lucky onlookers will get the chance to grab an exclusive 2-for-1 deal on tickets to the Sexual Nature exhibition.

 

You can catch the gastropod peep show on the South Bank by the Q20 Theatre group on:

 

  • Friday 12 August, from 15.00 - 22.00
  • Sunday 21 August, from 12.00 - 17.00
  • Monday 29 August, from 12.00 - 17.00

 

As well as the Roman snail, visitors to our Sexual Nature exhibition here can learn about a cacophony of other animal mating habits and discover the surprising scientific truth behind sex in the natural world .The exhibition contains frank information and imagery about sex.

 

The 2-for-1 ticket offer will be available to Snail Courtship Show audiences until the close of the exhibition on 2 October 2011. The tickets are only usuable on weekdays.