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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include researchers dressed in panda costumes, a massage given by an African snail, a 39-pound cat named Meow, a Japanese macaque with hay fever, and orangutans having a playdate using FaceTime on an iPad. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers, part of an ongoing series on animals in the news. [41 photos]

Polar bear cub Anori explores the outdoor enclosure at the zoo in Wuppertal, Germany, on Monday, April 23, 2012. Anori was born on January 4 and is becoming a visitor's highlight. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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The Chinese Lantern Festival takes place on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. As they mark the end of the Spring Festival, celebrants create colorful lanterns, set off fireworks, and hold parades. In one village, residents hurl molten metal against a wall to create an impressive display of sparks in a 300-year-old tradition. Gathered below are some vibrant images from this year's Chinese Lantern Festival. [29 photos]

A blacksmith throws molten metal against a cold wall to create sparks, as he and others celebrate the Lantern Festival which traditionally marks the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations, in Nuanquan, Hebei province, China, on February 6, 2012. For over 300 years, the village, which is famous for its blacksmith skills, has maintained the tradition which they consider a cheaper alternative to buying fireworks during the Lantern Festival. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include a fiery Spanish festival, a frightening encounter with a leopard in India, a flamingo undergoing laser treatment, a new species named in honor of entertainer Beyonce, and the plight of Ukraine's "vodka bears". These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers. [42 photos]

A man rides a horse through a bonfire on January 16, 2012 in the small village of San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain. In honor of San Anton, the patron saint of animals, horses are ridden through the bonfires on the night before the official day of honoring animals in Spain. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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Kayaker Alan Brady is surprised by two breaching humpback whales while kayaking off the coast of Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz, Calif. Photographer Paul Schraub was shooting pictures from a boat while on assignment for the Santa Cruz Conference and Visitors Council when he captured the moment. Newborn Pakistani babies, receive phototherapy treatment against [...]

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China, the most populous country (1.3 billion people) and the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve in the 21st century. Recent events in China include a successful satellite launch that lays the groundwork for a space station, the completion of a massive skyscraper in a rather small village, the 26th Universiade games for student athletes, the celebration of National Day, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and much more. This collection is only a small view of the people and places in China over the past several weeks. [49 photos]

Chinese artist Liu Bolin waits for his colleagues to put a finishing touch on him to blend into rows of soft drinks in his artwork entitled "Plasticizer" to express his speechlessness at use of plasticizer in food additives, in his studio at the 798 Art District in Beijing, China, on August 10, 2011. (AP Photo)

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People take refugee at a makeshift shelter after earthquakes in Cuilapa, Guatemala, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Four earthquakes struck the southeastern part of Guatemala in less than two hours Monday afternoon, causing at least one death, authorities said. At least three people were reported missing.

Anti-death penalty protester is helped off the ground after hearing about a delay of the execution by the U.S. Supreme Court for Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis In Jackson, Ga., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Davis was scheduled to die Wednesday for killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail.

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People take refugee at a makeshift shelter after earthquakes in Cuilapa, Guatemala, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Four earthquakes struck the southeastern part of Guatemala in less than two hours Monday afternoon, causing at least one death, authorities said. At least three people were reported missing. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #

 September 23, 2011

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Anti-death penalty protester is helped off the ground after hearing about a delay of the execution by the U.S. Supreme Court for Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis In Jackson, Ga., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Davis was scheduled to die Wednesday for killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton) #

 September 23, 2011

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A caretaker at the Calauit island wildlife sanctuary feeding giraffes with tree leaves in Busuanga, Palawan province, in the western Philippines. Calauit island wildlife sanctuary covers 3,700 hectares and is home to endemic animals and African wildlife and was declared a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary in 1977 as the Philippines responded to an appeal by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to save endangered animals in Africa. AFP PHOTO/ TED ALJIBE #

 September 23, 2011

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Members of Indian Army engineering wing help a Buddhist monk to descend a huge landslide following Sunday's 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Phengla around 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Gangtok, in Sikkim, India, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Thousands of homeless villagers in the Himalayas spent a miserable night outdoors in heavy rains after a powerful earthquake flattened houses and rescuers struggled to reach victims in the mountains of India, Nepal and Tibet. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) #

 September 23, 2011

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Soldiers stand guard as Israeli settlers with Israeli flags participate in a protest march against Palestinian statehood September 20, 2011 from the West Bank Jewish settlement of Itamar to the Palestinians town of Nablus, West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he plans to apply for full membership for a Palestinian state after he speaks at the UN General Assembly this Friday in New York City. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

 September 23, 2011

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Traders signal offers in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index futures pit at the CME Group following the Federal Reserve meeting September 21, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Federal Reserve says it will sell $400 billion of its shorter-term securities to buy longer-term holdings in an effort to stimulate the economy. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

 September 23, 2011

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A worker puts finishing touches on a ribbon display on a giant lantern shaped structure set up on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #

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Freed American Shane Bauer, center is welcomed upon his arrival from Iran, in Muscat, Oman Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. After more than two years in Iranian custody, two Americans convicted as spies took their first steps toward home Wednesday as they bounded down from a private jet and into the arms of family for a joyful reunion in the Gulf state of Oman. (AP Photo/Sultan Al-Hasani) #

 September 23, 2011

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The Statue of Liberty is seen through the windows of a boat prior to the start of the 125th Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty ceremony on Liberty Island on September 22, 2011 in New York City. The 125th Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty is to be celebrated on October 28th, 2011. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

 September 23, 2011

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Supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abduallah Saleh gather at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier where a Palestinian flag hangs during a rally celebrating his return to Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a surprise return to Yemen on Friday after more than three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia in a move certain to further enflame battles between forces loyal to him and his opponents that have turned the capital into a war zone. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed) #

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An Indian villager and a child, evacuated by helicopter from Chungthang de-board at a helipad in Mangan, India, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. The 6.9 magnitude quake Sunday evening claimed lives in northeastern India, Tibet and Nepal. Rescue efforts have been hampered by heavy rain and mudslides that blocked the roads leading to villages in the remote, mountainous region. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) #

 September 23, 2011

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A supporter of Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier hold portraits of former Haitian dictator Francois Duvalier, also known as "Papa Doc," below, and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as "Baby Doc," top, as protesters gather outside a hotel where the group interrupted a press conference by Amnesty International in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday Sept. 22, 2011. Amnesty International was expected to reveal new testimony from victims of the dictatorship and their relatives. Duvalier returned to Haiti in January from exile in France. He was ousted from Haiti in 1986 after a 15-year rule. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery) #

 September 23, 2011

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A woman suspected of being a Gadhafi loyalist is seen behind bars inside a detention facility in Misrata, Libya, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. Moammar Gadhafi's former prime minister has been arrested in Tunisia, officials said, as Libya's new rulers and NATO warned the fugitive leader and his loyalists that they are running out of places to hide. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo) #

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote during the Facebook f8 Developer Conference at the San Francisco Design Center in San Francisco on September 22, 2011 in California. KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images #

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Supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abduallah Saleh stand on flag poles celebrating his return to Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a surprise return to Yemen on Friday after more than three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia in a move certain to further enflame battles between forces loyal to him and his opponents that have turned the capital into a war zone. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed) #

 September 23, 2011

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In this photo taken on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, an Indian man removes a dried cloth from a string in New Delhi, India. India's Planning Commission, tasked with updating its poverty line figures to reflect rising prices, told the nation's Supreme Court Wednesday that fifty cents a day was "adequate" for the average Indian villager to spend on basic needs. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal) #

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A defecting Yemeni soldier takes position behind sandbags during clashes in Sanaa on September 22, 2011 as tribesmen join battles between rival military units, raising fears among frightened residents of a descent into civil war. MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images #

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Girls walk in a park in Moscow, on September 21, 2011. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images #

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Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian demonstrator during clashes at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in Qalandia Wednesday, as thousands of flag-waving Palestinians rallied in towns across the West Bank to show support for their president's bid to win U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill) #

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A displaced Pakistani boy, center, looks on as he and others collect water from a tanker in Umerkot District in Pakistan's Sindh province, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Flood victims camped out near inundated fields and crowded hospitals on Monday as authorities and international aid groups struggled to respond to Pakistan's second major bout of flooding in just over a year. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

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A photo taken on September 20, 2011 shows rescue serviceman checking for people as a passenger boat capsizes after being hit by a restaurant boat on the flooded Jialing River in southwest China's Chongqing municipality. Nearly 1.7 million people have been forced to abandon their homes and dozens more have died in heavy flooding across large parts of China, the government reported. STR/AFP/Getty Images #

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Displaced Pakistani Ijaz Nawana, 6, looks on while sitting on the ground playing with tyre, as he and others take refuge on a roadside after fleeing their homes in Tando Allah Yar district near Hyderabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

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Israeli settler youths wave Israeli flags at the start of a protest march against Palestinian statehood, from the West Bank Jewish settlement of Itamar near the Palestinians town of Nablus, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is determined to seek U.N. recognition this week of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in 1967. Israeli security forces fear the U.N. bid could spark violence in the West Bank. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) #

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Eddie Reyes is comforted while remembering fifteen of his colleagues in the New York Police Department Emergency Service Unit who were killed on September 11, 2001 during a first responders wreath-laying ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial on September 20, 2011 in New York City. The ceremony, which marks the first of seven "first responder days" for members of 9/11 first responder agencies and their families, honored the 441 first responders whose names are now inscribed on the September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

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Egongyan Bridge, Jailing River, Chongqing, China 2008

Egongyan Bridge over Jailing River, Chongqing, China, 2008

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China’s Chongqing municipality with a population now at 32 million is the fastest-growing urban center on Earth. Economic migrants from the countryside and neighboring provinces have swelled Chongqing at a rate of between 500,000 to 1 million people every year.

A decade ago — as part of plans to raise living standards in the western provinces — the Chinese government put Chonqing at the center of a $200 billion program of investment in infrastructure and commerce. The Guardian has described it as “the biggest megalopolis you’ve never heard of.”

City of Ambition, an online “gallerybook” by Turkish photographer Ferit Kuyas, is a spectral and haunting look at the drastic urbanization of what was once a relatively modest-sized metropolis. Chongqing’s population in its main urban areas was a little over 5 million in 2000. By 2020 it’s estimated that it will be 20 million.

For Kuyas, who married a Chongqing citizen, his portfolio captures not the city’s almost unfathomable progress, but rather the slow personal discovery of a city to which he has family ties and, at times, has called home.

“When you visit a place and have family there, you are in a different mindset,” says Kuyas, “It is like coming home. My personal approach was more complex. What attracted me most in the beginning was the two huge [Yangtze and Jialing] rivers blending in the city and then the topography of hills and quarries in the middle of the city. Yes, it appears to be haunting but when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t see that so much anymore.”

Chongqing is as renowned as San Francisco for its fog, and it is the defining element of Kuyas’ series. “At the beginning of the project I had expected harsh strong light,” says Kuyas. “On my first day shooting in October 2005 there was fog and a drizzle. I wanted to postpone but my sister-in-law who later turned out to be my photo assistant said that the weather would be like this during all three weeks of my stay. So I had to become friends with the fog. Today I see the fog as gift.”

“The fog serves as metaphor for today’s China with all its mysteries,” he says. “We can see clearly what is in the foreground. This is today: We know what’s going on. The things far away are partly or completely hidden: This is the future — we have expectations but we don’t really know.”

The unique climate and frantic construction in Chongqing have made it an attractive prospect for photographers. Nadav Kander included 11 images from Chongqing in his 2009 Prix Pictet–winning portfolio Yangtze, The Long River. This month Matthew Niederhauser of Institute Artist Management published a Chongqing photo essay in Foreign Policy.

Chongqing has historically relied heavily upon military industry to buttress regional economics. During World War II the city was heavily and strategically bombed. “Today there is a mix of heavy industry and automotive, electronic, food, chemical, textile and pharmaceutical industry,” says Kuyas.

The collection’s title, City of Ambition, refers to a quote by photography godfather Alfred Steiglitz describing the bustle and growth of 1920s Manhattan. The inference is that China’s future has only just begun. With either economic advance or environmental hazard dominating the media coverage of modern China, it is no surprise that the dramatic and particular rise of Chongqing lures journalists and photographers.

Kuyas has witnessed varied local reaction to Chongqing’s development. While some Chongqing citizens are proud of the city’s emergence, others have suffered — forced out their homes by the clearance of city blocks for construction of new apartments. Many of those displaced are unable to afford the new higher rents.

With change occurring at such a wicked pace and Kuyas working on City of Ambition between 2005 and 2008, how much longer does it — can it — remain relevant? Kuyas responds, “City of Ambition is a map of economic growth and of hope for the future. But it also breathes with history, social change and the exploitation of nature. All this is true for the whole of today’s China.”

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Chinese workers take a break at a site of the construction of a highway in Beijing. China is set to overtake Japan as the world’s second largest-economy in a resurgence that is changing everything from the global balance of military and financial power to how cars are designed.
China’s car production and sales will both exceed [...]

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