The Internet is history’s most effective distribution system of pictures of cats, but that’s a broad category. “Cat” can encompass both a little kitty snuggling with a teddy bear and the king and queen of the jungle (which doesn’t actually live in the jungle, but this is Internet and your facts are useless here) as they devour a great prey animal. Similarly, “picture” can mean something you snapped with your dusty iPhone camera or the stunning work of a photographer like Vincent J. Musi, who works with National Geographic.
This week, Musi and NatGeo have been sharing photos that he took of the big cats at the Houston Zoo via their respective Instagram feeds—and the images are genuinely stunning.
The photos were outtakes from a 2011 series called “Cats In Crisis,” and in them, Musi captures the lions, tigers, jaguars, and more who live at the Houston Zoo in gorgeous, evocative portraits that offer perspectives rarely seen of the big cats. Take a look at some of our favorites below, and consider getting involved in NatGeo’s “Big Cats Initiative” to preserve these magnificent creatures in the wild.
For more, visit the Instagram feeds of both Musi and National Geographic—and check out this video from NatGeo about how the images were captured below:
(h/t io9, all images by Vincent J. Musi for National Geographic)