L.A. Unleashed

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Category: Photos

African wild dogs make themselves at home at England's Chester Zoo

PaintedDog

A pack of seven African wild dogs who recently moved from a zoo in Sweden are already settling into their new habitat -- a specially designed enclosure intended to mimic the conditions in their native sub-Saharan African plains -- at the Chester Zoo in northern England.

African wild dogs -- also known as painted dogs or Cape hunting dogs -- are endangered, in part because of the spread of disease from domestic animals. The wild dogs also fall victim to farmers who kill them in an effort to protect their livestock from predators.

The Chester Zoo's African wild dog pack isn't yet on display; their exhibit is expected to open soon and includes a theater, a bridge offering an impressive view of the enclosure and public viewing windows to allow visitors to get a closer look.

See video of the Chester Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Tim Rowlands, talking about the zoo's newest residents and the troubles their species faces in the wild after the jump.

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R.I.P. Knut: Remembering the famous Berlin Zoo polar bear's life in photos

Knut the polar bear

Knut, the polar bear whose famously cute visage landed him a Vanity Fair cover and earned him legions of fans back when he was a cub in 2006 and 2007, died over the weekend of unknown causes. The celebrity bear, who was 4, died in his outdoor enclosure at the Berlin Zoo.

Zoo staffers are anxious to determine the cause of Knut's early death, considered extremely unusual for a species that can live up to 20 years in the wild and even longer in captivity. Knut had not appeared sick before his death and he was visible to 600 or 700 people gathered around the zoo's polar bear enclosure at the time of his death on Saturday.

Although it's hard to believe this beloved bear -- frozen in so many fans' memories as an energetic, full-of-life cub -- is gone, we had to smile when looking back over some of his earliest photos. Beginning in early 2007, not long after his birth, they showcase his first months in the spotlight and the special relationship he shared with his late keeper, Thomas Doerflein, who died in 2008.

We've assembled some of our favorite photos of Knut, ranging from his first year all the way to his fourth birthday last December, concluding with images of the makeshift memorial that sprang up at the Berlin Zoo over the weekend as Knut's many fans arrived to pay their respects. (For fans who live a long way from Berlin, the zoo has also set up an online memorial book for Knut.)

Above, Knut is shown at 2 months of age on Feb. 11, 2007. See more photos after the jump! (Photo credit: Peter Griesback / European Pressphoto Agency)

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Your morning adorable: Koala joey makes her debut at the San Francisco Zoo

Baby koala at the San Francisco Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo is still celebrating the birth of its newest koala joey -- despite the fact that she was born back in 2010.

Zoo staff first discovered the baby when they checked the pouch of her mother, Zakary, in December. Since koalas are born a little, shall we say, underdone, they remain in their mothers' pouches for months after birth; the joey didn't emerge fully from Zakary's pouch until February. She debuted to media photographers earlier this month.

The joey is the first koala to be born at the zoo since 2000. She hasn't yet been named.

The San Francisco Zoo is a participant in a conservation breeding program designed to help koalas bounce back from a steep population drop that's due in part to an outbreak of stress-induced chlamydiosis among wild members of the species. Both Zakary and the joey's father, Travis Jr., came to the San Francisco Zoo from the San Diego Zoo as part of a temporary loan agreement.

See more photos and video of the joey after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: What's cuter than a north China leopard cub in a basket? Not much

North China leopard cub

The battle for the title of cutest animal baby at the Berlin Zoo is a hotly contested one — think wolf pups, a guanaco calf, caracal kittens, African lion cubs and moose calves, all stunningly adorable in their own way — but we think this north China leopard cub gives them all a run for their money.

The cub, a female named Nekama, was born at the zoo in early January but made her official debut before media photographers on Tuesday.

The north China leopard is one of nine recognized leopard subspecies, rather closely resembling its relative the Amur leopard. As an adult, Nekama is likely to weigh around 70 pounds.

See more photos of Nekama after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Baby Francois' langur monkey makes his debut at Australia's Taronga Zoo

Baby Francois' langur monkey at the Taronga Zoo

At the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, a great deal of excitement surrounds the latest addition to the resident family of Francois' langur monkeys. A male Francois' langur named Keo-co was born Jan. 30 and ventured into an outdoor enclosure for the first time on Wednesday.

Keo-co's older sister, Elke, was born in 2009 and was the first offspring for mother Saigon. Unfortunately, Saigon didn't immediately take to motherhood and zoo staff elected to raise Elke themselves in order to ensure that she was healthy and well cared for. (Elke is now fully grown and still lives at Taronga, but she occupies a different enclosure than Saigon.)

This time around, Saigon seems to have gotten the hang of parenting and the zoo reports that Keo-co is extremely bonded to her. He is being raised both by Saigon and another resident female Francois' langur monkey, Meili. "The two mothers take care of him -- Saigon is the primary caregiver but when she needs a break Meili takes over; they take it in turns," Taronga primate keeper Roxanne Pellat told Australia's AAP news service.

Francois' langur monkeys are native to parts of Vietnam and China. They're endangered in large part due to hunting as a result of their use in some traditional medicines; they're also the victims of habitat loss and other common causes of wildlife population decline. Though members of the species are born with vivid orange coloring, their fur darkens as they age; adult Francois' langurs are primarily black with white markings.

See more photos and a video of Keo-co after the jump!

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Around the animal kingdom: Unleashed photos of the day for March 14

SearchRescue

From dogs to pigs, elephants to tortoises and lemurs to salamanders, members of the animal kingdom have been the subjects of their fair share of compelling photos over the past few days. Above, American search-and-rescue dogs sit on cots set up by U.S. and British rescue teams before spending the night in a gymnasium in Sumita, northern Japan, on Monday. Six of the dogs that have traveled to Japan to help in the wake of last week's massive earthquake and tsunami were trained at the Ojai-based National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. (See more photos of the earthquake's aftermath at The Times' photography and multimedia blog, Framework.)

ElephantBuffet

Asian elephants sample delicacies from an "elephant buffet" in observance of the national Thai Elephant Day at an elephant camp in Thailand's Chiang Mai province on Sunday. Sixty Thai elephants participated in the camp's Elephant Day celebration.

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Your morning adorable: Rare pygmy hippopotamus born in Swedish zoo

PygmyHippoBaby1

At the Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna, Sweden, the birth of a rare pygmy hippopotamus is a big deal. The baby, a male named Oliver, was born Feb. 15 to mother Krakunia.

As a newborn, Oliver had a bit of a close call because Krakunia, a first-time mother, didn't allow him to nurse. Parken Zoo staff found an interesting way around this problem, as the Telegraph explains:

So desperate were the zookeepers to keep Oliver alive that eventually one of them managed to milk Krakunia, thus allowing them to feed the youngster by hand.

According to the zookeepers, milking a hippopotamus was a world first. Since hippos are large, potentially dangerous animals -- even when pygmy-sized -- they have until now been considered far too dangerous to milk.

Now that's a dedicated zookeeper. Since then, Oliver has been sticking close to Krakunia, and the zoo says he's now thriving.

Pygmy hippos, which were classified as endangered in 2006, are native to parts of western Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Fewer than 3,000 members of the species are thought to remain in the wild.

See more photos and video of Oliver after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Giant river otter pups at Zoo Miami

Two Giant River Otter pups

The birth of two giant river otter pups in Florida earlier this year is big news both for their endangered species and the zoo where they were born.

The pups -- one male and one female who haven't yet been named -- were born at Zoo Miami on Jan. 31 to mother Kara and father Witoto. They are the first offspring for both parents and the first members of their species to be born at Zoo Miami.

The babies and their parents were kept in seclusion until recently and made a rare appearance last week during a veterinary checkup. (Both pups are reportedly in good health.)

Giant river otters are native to South America, where their population has been adversely impacted by hunting. Though these little guys only weigh about 2 to 3 pounds now, as adults they'll weigh as much as 75 pounds and measure up to 6 feet in length!

See another photo after the jump; if you're itching to see more photos, Zoo Miami has an extensive photo gallery at its Facebook fan page.

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Your morning adorable: Polar bear cubs explore the outdoors for the first time at Ouwehands Zoo

Two newborn polar bear cubs walk outside their enclosure for the first time at the Ouwehands Zoo

At the Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands, twin polar bear cubs born in late November ventured outside for the very first time last week.

The cubs, named Siku and Sesi (Inuit words for sea ice and snow, respectively), were born to mother Freedom and father Viktor. Their maternal grandmother, Huggies, also lives at the zoo.

If you can't get enough of Siku and Sesi, might we recommend checking out their nursery webcam on the Ouwehands Zoo's website? (As we type, the cubs are wrestling under their mother's watchful gaze, making it a little difficult to concentrate on the matter at hand.)

See more photos and video of Siku, Sesi and Freedom after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Giraffe calf sticks out his tongue at German zoo

Giraffe calf

At the Opel Zoo in Kronberg, Germany, 2011 has already been a big year for giraffe calves. Two Rothschild giraffes -- a male named Karl, born Feb. 10 to mother Catherine, and a male named Luke, born just three days later to mother Lucy -- have been born so far this year, joining a female Rothschild calf named Mary who was born on Christmas.

Karl, Luke and Mary are all half-siblings, sharing the same father, a bull (the term for a male giraffe) named Gregory.

The Opel Zoo is part of a conservation breeding program designed to help the Rothschild giraffes, which were recently classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, bounce back from the brink of extinction in the wild. Rothschild giraffes (also known as Ugandan giraffes or Baringo giraffes) are native to parts of Uganda and Kenya.

See more photos of Karl and Luke after the jump!

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