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01/06/2013 01:38 pm ET

Animal Photos Of The Week: African Lion Cubs, Elephants, Meerkats And More Pictures

The beginning of 2013 saw a number of fascinating stories from the animal kingdom. In Australia, researchers found that a species previously thought to be extinct to the region may actually still exist there. The long beaked echidna, last recorded in 1901, was reportedly spotted by Aboriginal populations recently.

An annual census has been taking place at the London Zoo. More than 17,500 creatures will be counted, including some new additions like Ziggy, the endangered white-naped mangabey monkey and Maxilla, a black and white colobus monkey.

Meanwhile, an alleged narwhal tusk-smuggling ring was busted this week in Maine. According to the AP, the Canadian suspects may have been illegally transporting the tusks, which typically sell for $1,000-$7,000 each, to the United States for nearly a decade.

Scientists have long known that birds can sing and dance, but have only recently discovered that they respond emotionally to music as well. According to a new study conducted at Emory University, avian brain activity shows similar patterns to humans while they are listening to music. “We hope that our mathematical framework for how songbirds learn to sing could help in the development of human behavioral therapies for vocal rehabilitation," said Emory biologist Dr. Samuel Sober.

Through a successful effort to breed the vulnerable species, African lion cubs were born at the end of December in the Omaha zoo. One of the adorable little guys was even snapped sporting a milk moustache!

To start off your new year with a smile, watch this pug climb stairs like a rabbit and check out the “Biggest and Baddest” animals video here.

Find some of the week's best animal photos below:

Animal Photos Of The Week 12/24-1/6

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