Photos: Athletic bears, dogs, birds, cats, horses, monkeys and more show off their jumping skills
Animals never cease to amaze us with their many talents. Their soccer prowess, their skills on the agility course, their purported psychic abilities, their aptitude for dancing and many other skills constantly impress us.
Heck, some animals are even talented beatboxers, percussionists and theremin players. Others have impressive piano-playing skills -- so impressive, in one cat's case, that a well-known conductor composed a concerto to frame her playing. And don't even get us started on the guinea pig rock band.
Add one more talent to that list: jumping. (Think jumping ability isn't a talent? Tell that to Kobe Bryant.) Take the polar bear above, for example. The creature in the foreground doing its best Superman impression and its sibling in the background were born in November at the St-Felicien zoo in Quebec. They're pictured during their public debut in June.
See more photos of jumping animals after the jump!
A dog jumps, using its handler as a springboard, to catch a Frisbee during the European disc dog competition in Mogyorod, Hungary, on May 30.
This squirrel darted onto the field during a 2009 Washington Nationals-New York Mets baseball game, and we couldn't help thinking that he looked like he was riding an invisible boogie board.
Taylor the border collie and his human companion Tom Clements practice their disc-dog routine before a qualifying round of the Purina Dog Chow Incredible Dog Challenge in 2003.
A cat leaps through a hoop at the Nga Phe Kyaung monastery in Myanmar, which is known -- oddly but endearingly -- for its skilled jumping cats. (Visitors to the monastery are welcome, as The Times' Travel department learned a few years back. Bonus: The jumping cats are named for celebrities like Michael Jordan, Demi Moore and Leonardo DiCaprio.)
K9 officer Ace the German shepherd leaps through the air into a pool during the Dixie Dock Dogs Great American Dawg Jump in Oconee County, Ga., on July 2. The competition was open to both "professional" diving dogs and rank beginners, with about 100 dogs total in attendance.
BMC Van Grunsven Simon, a Dutch warmblood, clears a water jump with rider Jeroen Dubbeldam during the CN International Grand Prix horse jumping event in Calgary, Alberta, on Sept. 12. The pair went on to win the event.
A polar bear -- or, as we like to call him, HoverBear -- dives into the water to escape the summer heat at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
A border collie jumps to catch a Frisbee during the European Disk Dog competition in Mogyorod, Hungary, on May 30.
Two sandhill cranes -- a species known for its balletic "dance moves" and tendency to make elaborate vocalizations -- perform a dance of sorts in Gibbon, Neb., in 2006. Sandhill cranes stop in the area every year during their migration. (Bonus fact: Sandhill crane chicks are incredibly cute.)
A dog leaps for a soccer ball at the Harbor of Cape Town, South Africa, on June 13.
A great white shark jumps next to a boat in the waters off Gansbaai, South Africa, on June 19. This is one creature that knows how to live every week like it's Shark Week.
A mouse runs onto the pitch during an English Premier League football match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Feb. 23.
A border collie mix named Tarrin jumps in a futile effort to catch a bit of sand thrown by his owner at the beach in Ventura, Calif., in 2005.
Two roosters in Shenyang, China, have been playing their own version of soccer since owner Zhang Lijun began training them in 2007. (They're not alone in loving soccer; other members of the animal kingdom, from penguins to lobsters to elephants, got into the act during the recent World Cup.)
A dog jumps to catch a Frisbee in a Berlin park on April 11. (Isn't it refreshing to see a dog playing Frisbee just for fun, not as part of a competition?)
Squirrel monkeys play at the Czech Republic's Prague Zoo on May 3.
A German shepherd police dog jumps over an obstacle during trials at a training center in the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk on July 2.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photos, from top: Polar bear: Mathieu Belanger / Reuters. Disc dog: Bela Szandelszky / Associated Press. Squirrel: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press. Disc dog: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images. Monk and cat: Kris Verhoeven. Diving dog: Richard Hamm / Associated Press. Jumping horse: Todd Korol / Reuters. Diving polar bear: G. Jones / Associated Press. Disc dog: Bela Szandelszky / Associated Press. Sandhill cranes: Nati Harnik / Associated Press. Soccer dog: Helmut Fohringer / European Pressphoto Agency. Great white shark: Franck Robichon / European Pressphoto Agency. Mouse: Andrew Yates / AFP/Getty Images. Dog jumping on the beach: Los Angeles Times. Roosters: European Pressphoto Agency. Disc dog: Theo Heimann / AFP/Getty Images. Squirrel monkeys: Filip Singer / European Pressphoto Agency. Police dog: Ilya Naymushin / Reuters.