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Currently gunning for the title of world’s smallest dog, Beyonce was the last of five puppies born to a rescue pup at The Grace Foundation of Northern California. Her beat-the-odds story resulted in her being named after the “Survivor” .
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The pop star was rewarded for her work rehabilitating big cats at South Africa’s Ukutula Lion Park & Lodge by having a lion cub named in her honor. “[It] was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” she said. “Being with animals re-energizes me, and this trip just reminded me how important it is for me to do everything in my power to help protect them.”
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Thanks to popular fan vote, a male jaguar born at the Akron Zoo in March 2009 was given the moniker LeBron, in tribute to the city’s famous son and basketball superstar. Just like James, the jaguar eventually left Ohio for Florida, where he was placed in Melbourne’s Brevard Zoo to mate with its female.
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In honor of one of its longtime patrons, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association dubbed a baby orangutan born in February Elka, after White’s Hot in Cleveland alter ego. “How appropriate that the most beautiful baby orangutan ever is named for my Hot in Cleveland character Elka Ostrovsky,” White said.
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The faces serious cuteness competition from this South African pygmy hippo born in late March. The animal was named after Harry because “he shows true grit and is passionate about Africa,” said Rob Hall, the reserve manager at Cango Wildlife Ranch.
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When he helped reopen California’s Pacific Marine Mammal Center in June 2011, Barker also scored a meet-and-greet with a rescued sea lion bearing his name. “I must confess, the most exciting thing is Barker,” he said of the launch experience. “I was astounded at the family resemblance.”
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When the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed a new python to its repertoire in December 2010, it chose a name that pays tribute to its most famous zookeeper, Hanna. After being preselected by the zoo, the name also scored the support of Facebook users, who voted it their No. 1 choice, and Hanna himself, who said having a namesake choked him up.
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The Kung Fu Panda star christened a 3-month-old panda cub Po (the name of his animated alter ego) at Georgia’s Zoo Atlanta in February 2011. But while he wanted to get up close and personal with the little guy, Black was thwarted by a veterinarian. “I wanted to hold it in my arms, but the vet was like, ‘Be careful, this is a real bear, and they have real claws,’” the actor said. “ ‘They don’t like to be touched.’”