December 28, 2015 12:01 AM EST

There are few things more enjoyable and humorously entertaining than cute animals and their offspring making amusing expressions, acting in surprising ways or awkwardly mocking human gestures.

Whether they’re fluffy, scaly or spiny, mighty or meek, quadruped, winged or finny, this year again the surprising world of animals doesn’t disappoint. Some of these critters made headlines, such as the seemingly placid hippo that escaped the flooded zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia; others saddened, such as the traumatized orangutan rescued with her baby; and others endlessly astonished — who knew baby undulate rays had blissed-out smiles?

TIME presents a collection of unpredictable moments brought to you by the wild animal kingdom in the past 12 months.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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