"I hope it shows people the unexpected drama found in the most familiar of urban environments," said photographer Sam Rowley

By Benjamin VanHoose
February 12, 2020 11:05 AM

Pizza Rat would be so proud of this award-worthy representation of urban wildlife.

The cinematic snapshot — which shows a pair of subway mice engaging in what appears to be an epic showdown on a platform within the London Underground system — was awarded the Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award, presented by London’s Natural History Museum on Wednesday.

Titled “Station Squabble,” the photo was captured by Sam Rowley, 25, and was voted on by the public after being shortlisted from a crop of 48,000 submissions.

With the dramatic image, Rowley hoped to offer a new perspective on the animals that roam the London Underground, the public transit system in the England region.

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"Station Squabble"
Sam Rowley

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“I am so pleased to win this award,” said Rowley in a press release. “It’s been a lifetime dream to succeed in this competition in this way, with such a relatable photo taken in such an everyday environment in my hometown.”

He added: “I hope it shows people the unexpected drama found in the most familiar of urban environments.”

In order to get the rodent dispute in-frame, Rowley explained that he had to lay flat on the subway platform, working five late nights to get the newly award-winning shot.

“I’m used to lying on the ground and waiting patiently for the perfect photo, but not on a station platform getting stampeded by drunken revelers,” he joked, adding that onlooking commuters tended to scare off his scurrying subjects.

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Some of the other frontrunners in the competition showcased animals from around the globe, including striking photos of a black rhino, a pair of jaguars with an anaconda in-mouth and one of an orangutan wearing boxing gloves titled “Losing the Fight,” highlighting degrading animal performances in Bangkok.

The winning photo, however, shows a closer-to-home scene that still may go unnoticed by many.

“Sam’s image provides a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment,” said museum director Michael Dixon in a press release. “The mice’s behavior is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard.”

He added: “This image reminds us that while we may wander past it every day, 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.”