Image: Two giraffes
Courtesy of TravelandLeisure.com
Giraffes drink lots of water when it's available, which allows them to live for long periods in dry areas. A giraffe's fur includes antibiotics and parasite repellents, which gives the animal a distinctive odor.
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updated 6/23/2011 8:51:31 AM ET 2011-06-23T12:51:31

Ever heard someone say they don’t like animals? It’s a rare occurrence, and typically met with confused looks and protestations. That’s because animals steal the show, drawing gasps and smiles from giddy onlookers, who scramble for their phones to snap photo after photo of each endearing or goofy expression.

Slideshow: World's most adorable animals

So it’s no surprise that when it comes to travel photography, animals dominate the scene. We went through countless photos submitted by Travel+Leisure readers to select the best of the best — the adorable animal photos that really made us say, “Aww!”

Capturing one such shot requires great skill but also a dose of good timing and lots of luck. Animals are often unpredictable and can move in and out of sight lines abruptly, meaning that you’ve got only one chance to get your photo just right. Even on a safari, it’s unpredictable how close you’ll get to the animal action or how much you’ll see.

Some of the most picture-perfect moments are when you luck out at catching an animal off guard. (Let’s hope it’s a friendly one, just in case!) One reader snapped an ostrich poking its head up from behind a plant box, staring directly at the camera, looking as if it’d been busted in the middle of some kind of mischief.

Other sweet photos reveal animals doing just what comes naturally to them. One of our favorite reader photos is of a mother polar bear resting with her eyes closed while her baby cub nuzzles up closely, probably as much for protective comfort as for warmth against the chilly air of Manitoba, Canada.

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