Whether cute and cuddly, wild or exotic, animals seem to endlessly fascinate. Our furry, feathered friends provide us with constant surprises and hours of viral entertainment on an annual basis. And last year was no exception. See the most powerful moments of the year 2014.
Dogs peek out from under a gate at the Cirillo family home in Hamilton, Ontario, on Oct. 23 near a memorial of flowers and flags. Canadians mourned the loss of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the army reservist who was shot dead as he stood guard before the Tomb of the Unknown soldier in Ottawa. The shooting began an attack that ended with a lone gunman storming into Parliament and opening fire before being shot dead himself.
Will Burrard-Lucas takes a photo while a meerkat perches on his lens in Jan. 2014 in Makgadikgadi, Botswana. These adorable meerkats used a photographer as a look out post before trying their hand at taking pictures.
Thousands of walruses gather on the northwest coast of Alaska on Sept. 23. Pacific walruses looking for places to rest in the absence of sea ice are coming to shore in large numbers, according to NOAA. An estimated 35,000 total walruses were spotted about 5 miles north of Point Lay, Alaska.
Newborn giant panda triplets rest in an incubator at the Chimelong Safari Park in China’s Guangzhou province on Aug. 9. According to local media, this is the fourth set of giant panda triplets born with the help of artificial insemination procedures in China, and the birth was seen as a miracle due to the low reproduction rate of giant pandas.
An egret preens itself as it stands on a branch along the River Brahmaputra on the eve of World Environment Day in Gauhati, India, June 4. World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5 by the United Nations to stimulate global awareness on environmental issues.
Tara the beagle cross is able to walk again after being fitted with state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs thanks to a British animal rescue charity. Tara was found clinging to life in Romania and suffering such severe gangrene in all four legs that the front two had rotted down to the bone. Veterinary surgeons managed to save the back two but amputated the front two – saving Tara’s life but leaving her unable to walk. After reading about her plight, Kelly Hare, who runs Safe Rescue For Dogs, which specializes in the care and re-homing of severely injured dogs, volunteered to help Tara.
A staff member examines a 14-year-old male orangutan found with air gun metal pellets embedded in his body at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Center in Indonesia on April 16. The center has cared for over 280 orangutans rescued from palm oil plantations, poachers and pet owners, and over 200 have been reintroduced into the wild. The critically-endangered primate population is dwindling rapidly due to poaching and destruction of their forest habitat as it is converted into palm oil plantations.
Molly Pederson, right, and her daughter Laura Patkotak take a selfie as a bowhead whale caught by Alaska Native subsistence hunters from their family is brought ashore in Barrow, Alaska, on Oct. 7. Whaling is a community event in Barrow, as family members and town residents race to the beach to congratulate the hunters and help butcher the catch.