Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Polar bear birthday antics
Walker the polar bear launches off the frozen bank of a pond inside his enclosure on Dec. 7 to tussle with a yellow hard hat on his third birthday at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, Scotland. Walker was born three years ago at the Rhenen Zoo in Holland, and he eventually came to live at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Related on MNN: Infographic: Polar bears in peril
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Photo: Frederic Nebinger/Getty Images
A very 'Nice' Christmas
This long exposure photo highlights an illuminated Ferris wheel surrounded by elaborate Christmas decorations installed at the Place Massena in Nice, France, on Dec. 7. The Place Massena is a popular, centrally located square that is surrounded by shops and restaurants.
Related on MNN: Cheap and green holiday gift guide 2011
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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Murphy/U.S. Navy/Flickr
Remembering Pearl Harbor
Command Master Chief Steven Alt (top) and Sgt. Major Scott Pile participate in a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island on Dec. 7 in honor of the 70th anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Makin Island, the Navy's newest amphibious assault ship — and the only U.S. Navy ship with a hybrid electric propulsion system — is currently on its first operational deployment.
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Photo: Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images
Little blue penguin release
A little blue penguin moves towards the sea after being released by wildlife workers and school children on Dec. 8 at Mount Maunganui beach in Tauranga, New Zealand. These createures, also known as fairy penguins, are the smallest species of penguin. They were among the animal populations affected when the Monrovia-flagged container ship Rena ploughed into a reef on Oct. 5, New Zealand's biggest sea pollution disaster.
Related on MNN: Want to knit a sweater for a penguin?
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Photo: Feng Li/Getty Images
The Japanese team warms up on Dec. 8 before the 6th FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy at the Water Cube in Beijing. The annual sporting event is scheduled to take place from Dec. 9-11.
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Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr
Operation: Give Thanks
Small American flags that were flown aboard the final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis are packed up by the Goddard Space Flight Center's Veterans Advisory Committee on Dec. 7 at the laboratory's headquarters in Greenbelt, Md. The special flags will be included in 75 donation packages that will be sent to troops in the Middle East.
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Photo: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images
Shaun Wells of Australia sails strong against choppy waves on Dec. 7 as he competes on the Leighton Course during day five of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia.
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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
Trees for Troops
U.S. Army soldiers haul free Christmas trees over their shoulders on Dec. 7 at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 600 soldiers and military families received trees at the base as part of the annual Trees for Troops program. Some 17,000 trees are donated by growers and retailers nationwide in the weeks before Christmas and delivered by Federal Express to 60 military installations in the United States and abroad as a holiday morale booster.
Related on MNN: How to buy a Christmas tree
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Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images
Oldest living dog dies
Mixed-breed dog Pusuke — shown here in this December 2010 photo with his 42-year-old caretaker, Yumiko Shinohara, just after being recognized by the Guiness Book of Records as the world's oldest living dog — died on Dec. 5, 2011, at the ripe age of 26 years old and nine months in the city of Sakura, Tochigi, Japan. Pusuke was about 120 years old in dog years. Although Pusuke was recognized as the oldest living dog until he died, the dog who was recorded as living the longest was an Australian cattle dog named Bluey who lived 29.5 years before his death in 1939.
Related on MNN: 15 pets with Guinness World Records
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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Waiting to withdraw from Iraq
With a decorated Christmas tree erected in the background, U.S. Army soldiers play a game of basketball on Dec. 8 at Camp Virginia near Kuwait City while waiting to depart for home. After eight years of occupation, the American military is pulling out of Iraq just in time for Christmas.
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