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Oh, the inspiration that animals can bring to us humans! USA TODAY Network takes a look at animals that made us smile through their determination and joy in 2013.

"Buddha"

Description: 6-year-old gray and white domestic short-haired cat

Inspiration: The 31.4-pound feline began a diet and exercise regimen in August in an effort to reach a target goal of 20 pounds. As Buddha shed the weight, he developed a large following via his videos on YouTube. Some of the videos showed Buddha walking on an underwater treadmill as exercise. Sadly, at 24 pounds, Buddha died from a heart ailment.

"Duncan Lou Who"

Description: The puppy was born with a severely deformed pelvis and rear legs. He later had to have two of his legs amputated, according to Seattle's KING-TV.

Inspiration: A month after having corrective surgery, the pooch was wagging his tail while playfully running outside. "Duncan is my hero," his owner, Amanda Giese of Panda Paws Rescue, told KING-TV. "He will continue to face every obstacle to come with grace and perseverance."

Duncan has a custom wheelchair, but his owner says he hasn't used it much.

"Bao Bao"

Description: The female giant panda cub was born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in August.

Inspiration: Her parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, had unsuccessfully tried to reproduce for years. Bao Bao's birth has given scientists confidence that the couple could reproduce again, which is critical since the species is endangered in the wild.

Bao Bao is only the second cub to survive birth since pandas first came to the zoo in 1972.

"Bandar and Sukacita"

Description: Two rare Sumatran tiger cubs were born in August at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Inspiration: Zookeepers say the tigers are "a huge conservation success" since there are less than 500 of these tigers in the wild.

It's the first litter of cubs for their mother, Damai. The cubs made their public debut in November after they passed their swim reliability test.



"Chris P. Bacon"

Animal: The piglet was born with two deformed back legs because of a congenital defect that left his joints fused together.

Inspiration: Thanks to the son of his owner, Len Lucero, the defect has not gotten in Chris P. Bacon's way. His son used a set of K'nex toys to snap together a small cart and harness for the piglet. Bacon can move all around the owner's farm in Florida using the contraption.

The pig has inspired many disabled children, appearing with his owner at fundraisers and conferences. He's also appeared on the Today show, met Anderson Cooper and has his own Web page, Pinterest site and Twitter account.

Follow @AshMWill on Twitter

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