TIME’s Best of 2011: Animals in Peril

Felipe Dana—AP Photo
Felipe Dana—AP Photo
January 13, 2011. Rescue workers removed a live rabbit as they search for survivors inside a home destroyed by a landslide in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. At least 350 people have died after landslides hit in January and 50 or more were still missing.

Animals have found themselves in the path of peril and at the heart the some of the biggest news stories over the past twelve months, from the Japanese tsunami and Bangkok floods to the war in Libya and the droughts in Africa. While some animals have been sent into the danger zone, the majority of these creatures have simply had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, victims of circumstance, and at the mercy of nature’s wrath or man’s violent feuds.

When U.S. special-forces stormed a compound and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the story behind the story was that of the anonymous four-legged member of the eighty-strong team: a bulletproof vest-wearing K-9 military working dog that had taken part in the raid. Elsewhere, the mascot dogs of the Athens protests—Kanellos, Louk and Loukanikos, or”Sausage”—have been photographed countless times amid the protests. The subject of the online world’s attention, the canines have a dedicated Facebook and Wikipage, and are featured in numerous YouTube videos.

The average animal doesn’t make headlines, but countless creatures have been photographed amid the chaos and destruction so widely connected to some of the year’s biggest stories. Here, LightBox looks back on a few furry friends who’ve found themselves in harm’s way in 2011.

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