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Beloved animals

Updated 9:39 AM ET, Fri August 28, 2015
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knut the polar bearknut the polar bear
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Knut the polar bear was a star at the Berlin Zoo despite a rough start in life. As a cub, he was abandoned by his mother, but a zookeeper hand-raised him to adulthood. His death of encephalitis in 2011, when he was 4, shocked fans. "Knut was something very special," said a zoo board member. Knut isn't the first animal to become a cause celebre for just being himself. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Cecil the lion probably never knew how beloved he was. The Zimbabwean lion, who was killed on a hunt in early July 2015, was a popular attraction among visitors to Hwange National Park thanks to his status in some studies run by Oxford University scientists. Now, he's world-famous -- and the men accused of killing him are being taken to task. ZIMBABWE NATIONAL PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
Jumbo the elephant was among the most famous beasts of the 19th century, so popular that his name became synonymous with bigness. After being captured in India and spending a few years in Europe, the elephant was purchased by P.T. Barnum and became the centerpiece of Barnum's circus. He died in a train accident in 1885. "Long after his life was extinct," The New York Times reported, "his keeper, who brought him from the Zoological Gardens in London, laid on his body and wept." London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Silverback gorilla Willie B. helped spark change at Atlanta's zoo in the 1980s. At the zoo's nadir, Willie B. lived in a cramped cage with just a television. Thanks to poor conditions like Willie B.'s, the zoo's accreditation was revoked. But new director Terry Maple made major changes -- including a habitat for Willie B. -- and Zoo Atlanta was turned around. Willie B. died in 2000. Wiley Perry/AJC/AP
It's not often that an octopus becomes widely admired, but when you can pick World Cup winners, you can write your own ticket. Paul the octopus, a resident of the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, correctly predicted the winner of every German match in the 2010 World Cup -- and then nailed the final, too. He died of natural causes a few months later. PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images
When she was 12, Koko the gorilla -- who is able to use sign language -- wanted a pet. She got a stuffed animal. That wasn't satisfactory, so for her 13th birthday in 1984, she got a kitten, which she named All Ball. When the kitten died six months later, Koko expressed great sadness at her loss. She got two more kittens in 1985. Since the second one, Smoky, died in 2005, she's been getting cat visits from the Humane Society at her home at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California. Robert Madden/National Geographic/Getty Images
SeaWorld's Shamu, the first orca to survive for more than a year in captivity, became a celebrated attraction at the San Diego park -- so much so that other orcas have been named Shamu. The orcas' life has not been without controversy; one named Tilikum killed a trainer in 2010, an event examined in the CNN documentary "Blackfish." Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Tama, a Japanese cat, became celebrated as the friendly stationmaster of the Kishi rail station in Kinokawa -- part of a railway line that she helped save from shutting down, thanks to her popularity, which brought in millions of dollars. Tama died June 22. She was 16. Her funeral was attended by 3,000 people. TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images