The 50 Best Animal Photos Of 2012

A definitive collection of the best animal photojournalism of the year. Enjoy.

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1. The orphaned gorilla and his warden

PHIL MOORE/ AFP/ Getty Images

Patrick Karabaranga, a warden at the Virunga National Park in Congo, sits with an orphaned mountain gorilla in the gorilla sanctuary.

3. The 10-day-old elephant in Sumatra

Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP/ Getty Images

A ranger inspects a 10-day-old baby elephant at Sarah Deu conservation response unit in Indonesia. There are fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants remaining in the wild, a 50% drop since 1985.

4. The cat cafe kiss

Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters

An employee kisses Dyushes, a Don Sphynx cat, at the "Cats Republic" art cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia. The cafe has an exhibition area, a library, and a hall where cats live. Visitors can pay $5-10 to play with the cats.

7. The elephant funeral

Anupam Nath / AP

A villager offers flowers to a female adult elephant lying dead in a paddy field in Panbari village, India. The elephant was hit by a train and killed while crossing railway tracks with a herd of wild Asiatic elephants.

11. The world's first cloned pashmina goat

Dar Yasin / AP

Noori, a cloned pashmina goat, stands inside a sheep breeding center at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in India. Scientists at the university successfully cloned the world's first pashmina goat, prized for its fine wool, according to news reports.

16. The boy and his pet bear

Biswaranjan Rout/AP

Ghasiram Kisan feeds Buddu, a 1½-year-old sloth bear at the family’s home in Lakhapada, India. The wild bear, which was rescued by wildlife officials, wandered into the village as a cub following a herd of goats and had lived with the family ever since.

19. The leopard stuck in the water tank

AFP/Getty Images

A wild leopard climbs a net after it fell into a water reservoir tank at a tea estate in Haskhowa, India. The animal was rescued by the Sukna Forest rescue team by lowering a ladder and a net into the tank.

20. The whale funeral

Reuters

People gather around a humpback whale that beached itself in White Rock, British Columbia. The whale, with signs of injuries on its body, was alive when fisheries officials arrived but died soon after.

22. The Shark Whisperer

OUG PERRINE/Barcroft Media /Landov

Andre "The Shark Whisperer" Hartman touches the snout of a great white shark near ‘Shark Alley’ which holds the highest concentration of great white sharks in the world.

25. The dyed dogs

Reuters

Dogs that were dyed red upon contact with Rhodamine B extra are seen in Jinan, China. A bag of Rhodamine B extra, which is easily soluble in water and makes the solution red, dropped on a highway and drifted to a nearby village after being crushed by passing vehicles.

26. The cativist

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

A Turkish woman holds her cat in front of a banner during a march for animal rights in Istanbul. Demonsrators gathered against a proposed amendment to a law that authorizes the removal of stray animals, limiting the number of pets in houses, and the termination of what is termed "dangerous" breeds. Activists fear the regulation will lead to mass killing of cats and dogs regardless of whether they are pets or strays.

30. This terrifying interaction between a diver and an anaconda

Franco Banfi/Solent News/Rex/Rex USA

A diver gets up close to a huge anaconda resting on a riverbank. Thankfully, its swollen belly shows it had recently eaten a capybara and would have little interest in feeding again for a while.

31. The orphaned dogs of the Philippines

Bullit Marquez / AP

Pit bulls and other breeds are chained in their steel drum cages at a coffee farm after being rescued from dog fighting gangs in the Philippines.

33. The orangutan being released into the wild after years of captivity

Iwan Pribadi/Rex/Rex USA

A young male orangutan takes his first steps into the wild after years of being kept as an illegal pet by palm oil plantation workers. The ape was released into the forest by rescuers and carers from Borneo.

35. The world's tallest dog

Guinness World Records 2013 Book/Kevin Scott Ramos / AP

The world’s tallest dog, Zeus, drinks from the kitchen tap at his home. Standing on his hind legs, Zeus is 7 foot 4 inches tall.

36. The polar bear cuddling his keeper

Quirky China News/Rex / Rex USA

Six-month-old polar bear cub Yuan Yuan hugs the leg of his keeper at Penglai Ocean Polar World. According to keepers, Yuan Yuan is like a spoiled child.

37. The sheep and his new family

ULRICH PERREY/AFP/Getty Images

Wolfgang Grensens, a shepherd, decided to raise a 6-week-old lamb after his mother passed away. The sheep fits right in.

38. The tiniest deer

JOSE LUIS SAAVEDRA/Reuters

This little guy was found orphaned in a forest close to Concepcion, Santiago. The Pudu inhabits exclusively in southern Chile and part of Argentina. The species is currently in danger of extinction.

42. The donkey with two pink casts

Caters New Service

Three-week-old Primose was saved by vets who put her underdeveloped legs in casts until they are strong enough to support her.

44. The sloth photobomb

Caters News Service

It happened in Costa Rica to a group of student volunteers. The cameraman said: "As I looked through the camera lens I could see something creeping in to the frame. When I realized it was a baby sloth, I clicked the button as fast as I could, not that he was going anywhere fast."

48. The orphaned koala in a coffee cup

Newspix/ Rex/ Rex USA

Raymond was found abandoned on the side of the road in Brisbane, Australia. He was named after the man who found him.

49. The orphaned elephant

Denis Farrell / AP

Seven-and-a-half-month-old Moses was found alone and close to death in the Vwaza Wildlife Reserve in Malawi. His parents had been killed by poachers, and he has since been adopted by the Jumbo Foundation where he is being cared for and raised by humans.

50. The bear falling from the sky

CU Independent, Andy Duann / AP

A bear that wandered into the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, dorm complex Williams Village falls from a tree after being tranquilized by Colorado wildlife officials.