“Station Squabble” by Sam Rowley, LUMIX People’s Choice Award Winner. (© Sam Rowley/Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.)

From its ground-level angle, Sam Rowley’s photograph of two tiny mice fighting over crumbs looks like an epic battle fit for the big screen. The London Underground station appears as cavernous as a stadium, the station platform now a boxing ring. Yet, many of the passing commuters and late-night straphangers likely never noticed such a scuffle of that small scale. 

With its innovative point-of-view and miniature scurrying subjects, Rowley’s “Station Squabble” beat out 48,000 images to earn him a top prize, the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award, on February 12. The competition was hosted by London’s Natural History Museum, which selected 25 finalists out of all the eligible entries to be voted on by the public. 

Rowley, a 25-year-old researcher at the BBC and semi-pro photographer, staked out the underground mice from dusk until the near dawn for about a week. He told CNN that he got the idea from a friend’s video of mice fighting in the station. “With the majority of the world living in urban areas and cities now, you have to tell the story about how people relate to wildlife,” Rowley said. “Wildlife is fantastic and I think we need to appreciate the smaller and supposedly more difficult animals to live with.”

“The mice’s behavior is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard,” Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said in a press release. “This image reminds us that while we may wander past it everyday, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep — I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more.”

“Losing the Fight” by Aaron Gekosi, LUMIX People’s Choice Award Highly commended images. (© Aaron Gekoski/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“Matching Outfits” by Michel Zoghzoghi, LUMIX People’s Choice Award Highly commended images. (© Michel Zoghzoghi/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Among the “highly commended” nominees is Aaron Gekoski’s soulful portrait of an orangutan forced to perform in a boxing outfit and Michel Zoghzhogi’s striking photo of a jaguar mother and cub grasping an anaconda in their jaws. Visitors can view many of these photos and more at the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition that will run until May 31, 2020. 

Monica Castillo is a writer and critic based in New York City. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Village Voice, RogerEbert.com, Remezcla, the Guardian, Variety, NPR, and Boston...

2 replies on “Uniquely Cinematic Shot of Mice Fight in London Subway Wins Wildlife Photography Award”

  1. Love it! (Pssst, your headlines in the newsletter and elsewhere have suggested that the mice photo has won the WPOTY award. As you correctly reported, it won the People’s choice award. The winner of the grand title is “The Moment” by Bao Yongqing AND IT’S JUST AS FUN AND DRAMA!

  2. Ms. Monica. … I disagree. The mice aren’t battling. They are dancing and the mouse on the right is in the process of dipping his partner! I mean … really. … It’s Valentine’s Day!

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