Our 17 Favorite Wildlife Images of 2023

December 29, 2023

At WCS, we operate five wildlife parks in New York City (Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo) and work in 50-plus countries saving wildlife and wild places. As we close out 2023, we're reflecting on all that we've accomplished this year for nature, which wouldn't have been possible without your support. Thank you!


Unprecedented Conservation Triumph

The IUCN Red List status assessment of saiga was changed from Critically Endangered to Near Threatened, thanks to effective national and international conservation efforts.

Photo Credit: ©Andrey Ginlev


A Transformative Initiative

These scarlet macaws are found in the Moskitia, Honduras's largest forest (also one of Mesoamerica’s Five Great Forests). At the UN Climate Conference in Dubai, the Honduran government unveiled a transformative initiative to rescue and conserve it.

Photo Credit: ©WCS Mesoamerica

Mangshan Pit Viper

Hatchling at the Bronx Zoo

Mangshan pit vipers are seldom encountered in the wild, but visitors to WCS’s Bronx Zoo in 2023 had an opportunity to observe a hatchling in the nursery at the World of Reptiles.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen © WCS

Snow Leopard

Two Cubs Debut

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.”

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen © WCS

Humpback Whale

Regular “New Yorkers”

It’s clear that whales have become regular “New Yorkers” as evidenced by images taken in 2023 by scientists with WCS’s Ocean Giants Program. Here: a humpback whale within sight of the New York City skyline.

Photo Credit: ©Sarah Trabue/WCS/Ocean Giants/Activities Conducted Pursuant to NMFS ESA/MMPA Permit No 27057

Greater Adjutant

New National Protected Area

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 Porpoise

Ocean Discovery

WCS 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.

Photo Credit: ©Ari S. Friedlaender

Southern Pudu

Fawn at Queens Zoo

In 2023, a tiny southern pudu fawn debuted at WCS’s Queens Zoo. Southern pudu are the smallest deer in the world.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen © WCS

Blacktip Reef Shark

Driving Reef Sharks Toward Extinction

This is a blacktip reef shark. A new study, 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 in 2023 that overfishing is driving reef sharks toward extinction.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen © WCS


New Bronx Zoo Experience

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

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen © WCS


Unseen There in Nearly Two Decades

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.

Photo Credit: © PN Sena Oura, Chad MEPDD/WCS

Royal Turtle

20 Turtles Released

Here, a Buddhist monk assists with the release of a royal turtle. WCS, in collaboration with Mandai Nature and the Fisheries Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, released 20 critically endangered royal turtles into the Sre Ambel River system in Koh Kong Province's Sre Ambel district.

Photo Credit: ©WCS

Forest Elephant

Congo's Djéké Triangle Protected

The “Djéké Triangle,”an unlogged forest where this forest elephant was photographed, became a part of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Republic of Congo in 2023.

Photo Credit: ©Scott Ramsay/WCS

Pallas's Cat

First-Ever Report of Pallas’s Cat on Mount Everest

Pictured: a Pallas’s cat living in WCS Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn. 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.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen © WCS

Fruit Bat

Test for Zoonotic Diseases

In 2023, we released an image of scientists taking a swab from a straw-colored fruit bat to test it for zoonotic diseases such as the Ebola virus.

Photo Credit: ©C. Kolopp/WCS

Snow Monkeys

Thick Coats

Pictured here: Snow monkeys at the 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. Their thick coats insulate them from the wind & snow, & some snow monkey troops in Japan frequent natural hot springs in winter.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen © WCS


Protect Hudson Canyon

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.

Photo Credit: ©NOAA

Support WCS in 2024 and Beyond


We need your help

Your tax-deductible gift supports cutting-edge exhibits, first-class animal care, and in-depth research to help threatened wildlife survive and thrive.

Sign Up for Email Updates

Get news from the field and learn about ways you can help Earth’s most threatened species.