NEW YORK – December 29, 2023 – WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) released today its 17 favorite animal images of 2023 from its field work across the world and its zoos and aquarium in New York City.

WCS operates five wildlife parks in New York City (Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo) and works in 50 plus countries saving wildlife and wild places.

Click here for high-res copies of our favorite animal photos of 2023.


Fruit bat: The Wildlife Conservation Society released an image in 2023 of scientists taking a swab from a straw-colored fruit bat to test it for zoonotic diseases such as the Ebola virus. Credit: Clement Kolopp/WCS

Blacktip reef shark: This is a blacktip reef shark at the New York Aquarium. A new study in 2023, featuring more than 150 researchers worldwide, including Wildlife Conservation Society scientists who collected data at WCS programs in Mesoamerica, South East Asia, Melanesia and East Africa, said that overfishing is driving reef sharks toward extinction. Credit: Julie Larsen/WCS

Budgie Landing: A new experience opened in 2023 at the Bronx Zoo, Budgie Landing, an immersive walkthrough exhibit that includes more than 1000 colorful budgerigars, commonly known as budgies. Credit: Julie Larsen/WCS

Forest elephant: Here is a forest elephant, in Djeke Triangle. The “Djéké Triangle,”an unlogged forest, became a part of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Parkin Republic of Congo in 2023. Credit: S. Ramsay/WCS

Great adjutant: This great adjutant lives in Cambodia’s Bakan Protected Landscape. Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and the Pursat Provincial Administration and Department of Environment, announced in 2023 the official designation of the Bakan grassland as a national protected area officially called the Bakan Protected Landscape. Photo Credit: Sum Phearun WCS Cambodia

Harbor porpoises: Wildlife Conservation Society research in 2023 revealed that harbor porpoises, a small, shy porpoise species lives year-round in the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary, the largest and busiest port on the U.S. East Coast. Credit: Ari S. Friedlaende

Humpback whale: It’s clear that whales have become regular “New Yorkers” as evidenced by images taken in 2023 by scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Ocean Giants Program, showing a humpback whale within sight of the New York City skyline. Credit Sarah Trabue/WCS

Lioness: This is a lioness in Sena Oura National Park. A team of conservationists from the Government of Chad and the Wildlife Conservation Society released in 2023 a stunning image taken by a remote camera of a healthy female lion from Sena Oura National Park in Chad, where the big cats haven’t been seen in nearly two decades. CREDIT: PN Sena Oura, Chad MEPDD/WCS

Mangshan pit viper: Mangshan pit vipers are seldom encountered in the wild, but visitors to WCS’s Bronx Zoo in 2023 began having an opportunity to observe a hatchling in the nursery at the World of Reptiles. Credit: Julie Larsen/WCS

Royal turtle: Here, a Buddhist monk assists with the release of a Royal turtle. The Wildlife Conservation Society, in collaboration with Mandai Nature and the Fisheries Administration (FiA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), released in 2023 20 critically endangered Royal Turtles into the Sre Ambel River system in Koh Kong Province's Sre Ambel district. Credit: WCS

Pallas’s cat: Here is a Pallas’s cat living in WCS’s Prospect Park Zoo in Brookyn. Findings from a paper published in 2023 in Cat News identified the first ever report of Pallas’s cat on Mount Everest, in the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal. Credit: Julie Larsen/WCS

Saiga antelope: The IUCN Red List status assessment of Saiga antelope was changed in 2023 from Critically Endangered to Near Threatened, thanks to effective national and international conservation efforts. Photo Credit: Andrey Ginlev

Scarlet macaw: These scarlet macaw are found in Moskitia. The Honduran government unveiled in 2023 a transformative initiative to rescue and conserve the country’s largest forest, the Moskitia, which is one of Mesoamerica’s Five Great Forests and Central America’s second largest rainforest. Photo Credit: WCS Mesoamerica

Snow leopards: Two snow leopard cubs debuted in 2023 at the Bronx Zoo. Snow leopards, among the world’s most elusive big cats, are rarely seen in the wild and are sometimes referred to as “the ghost of the mountains.” Credit Julie Larsen/WCS

Southern pudu: WCS’s Queens Zoo debuted in 2023 a tiny southern pudu fawn, the smallest deer in the world. Credit: Julie Larsen/WCS

Snow monkeys: Pictured here: Snow monkeys at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, are a species native to Japan. No other non-human primate lives so far north or in such a cold climate. Credit: Julie Larsen/WCS

Octopus: This octopus is found in the Hudson Canyon. Throughout 2023, we worked to rally support to have the Hudson Canyon, about 100 miles off the coast of New York, designated as a National Marine Sanctuary. © Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2021 ROV Shakedown