Do you remember your first swim test? That's what we're seeing here from Bandar, a male Sumatran tiger cub at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He's one of two Sumatran cubs born on Aug. 5, 2013, and before going on exhibit, he has to be able to keep his head above water, paddle safely in the shallow end of the moat, and be strong and agile enough to haul himself up onto dry land on his own. It's comforting to know that a creature as tough as a tiger can look just as mildly freaked out as we did when first exposed to water. Any resemblance Bandar bears to a rather panicked Tony the Tiger is purely coincidental.
Heading north a bit, to the Bronx Zoo, we find a red panda cub making the big climb over a tree trunk. It's one half of a pair of twins -- born over the summer -- debuting in the zoo's Himalayan Highlands exhibit. Panda fans in New York are lucky, of late: Another set of red panda twins have recently debuted at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.
Big news on the shark front. Scientists have finally identified an extinct species of megamouth shark, one that patrolled the oceans about 23 million years ago, and was related to the megamouth shark Megachasma pelagios, shown here. But unlike the modern shark, it had slightly longer, pointier teeth.
You may be wondering what this slab of knotty rock is doing in an animal pictures collection. But this slab of knotty rock is actually a piece of fossilized, baby-shark poop (though it looks like a crashed meteorite, the picture is a close-up, the poo itself only 1.5 inches long). It was expelled more than 70 million years ago by the baby shark after eating its final meal, a baby turtle. (Undigested turtle vertebrae in the sample told scientists the baby shark likely died soon after the meal.) We include this image as a reminder that all creatures, even fierce kings of the water, have their moments of humility.
You're looking at something quite rare: a picture of a bay cat, a brand of feline that was not photographed in the wild until 2003. This new image, taken in Borneo, is one of only a handful taken since that time. Scarcely more than a couple of thousand bay cats are thought to remain in the wild.
Apparently, froghoppers mate for a reaaaallllly long time. This fossil is nickmaked "Forever Love," and it's a pair of copulating froghoppers that lived 165 million years ago. Scientists aren't sure what happened to leave the pair in this Grecian-urn-like, amorous state forever, but it has given them the earliest record of copulating insects to date.
Why walk when you can ride? Here, a young hamadryas baboon is carried by its mother in the Zoological Garden in Berlin, Germany, on Nov. 8, 2013. Four baboons have already been born in the zoo this year. Young baboons, such as this critter, have much darker fur than their elders.
Earlier this year, a French sheep farmer was surprised to find his flock included a newborn, five-legged lamb. The little one had a leg jutting out of its side. Now the farmer, Yvan Delage, says he wants to find a good home for the unusual animal, which isn't adversely affected by the extra stomper. He can't bring himself to let it be slaughtered. So he's selling the sheep online, at a reserve price of 200 euros or more.
The Zoo Aquarium of Madrid recently presented for exhibit this youthful giant panda, which is just two months old. Pandas are big-time celebrities, wherever zoos are lucky enough to care for them, and this one is already working on its jaded rock star look. Bring him another pillow, and some bamboo!
Finally, we present a pigeon alighting on a boy's head. Because how often does THAT happen? This pigeon found its unlikely perch in the flooded Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. The boy seems more amused than he is startled, which is probably just as well.