Jan. 9, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Lindsey Vonn poses with her puppy outside the animal shelter where she adopted him.

Skier, Puppy Recover Together

On Tuesday, U.S. Gold medalist Lindsey Vonn announced that she wouldn’t be able to ski in the Olympic Games in Sochi next month because her injured knee requires surgery. The next day, the skier, who’s dating golfer Tiger Woods, got a new companion to help her cope with her dashed dreams. "This definitely brightened my day — I adopted this 9 month old cutie from an animal shelter,” Vonn said on her Facebook page, with a photo of her new dog. “He has a bad knee from being hit by a car when he was a puppy and no one wanted him … but I do!! I encourage anyone looking for an animal to adopt from a shelter and save a life! #bumkneebuddies." Vonn adopted the brindle Boxer mix from Furry Friends, a shelter in Jupiter, Fla., reports Florida’s WPBF. Vonn plans to take Leo to an orthopedic surgeon to see what more can be done to improve his condition. For now, the pair is recovering at home together. — Read it at E!Online

Lions Near Extinction in West Africa

A new study predicts that unless conservation efforts improve, lions may disappear from West Africa, where they once had a vast range. "It was really not known that the status of the lion was so dire in West Africa," said study co-author Philipp Henschel, who works with the big cat conservation group Panthera. "In many countries it was not known that there were no more lions in those areas because there had been no funding to conduct surveys." The six-year survey covered 11 countries and found only an estimated 250 lions in less than one percent of the 1,500 miles they were thought to inhabit. The lion’s range in West Africa has been drastically reduced by changes in land use, including the planting of farms. And lions’ prey is being poached to supply local bushmeat markets. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at National Geographic

Penguins Can Climb Cliffs to Find New Ice

Surprised scientists say if their sea ice homes disappear due to climate change, emperor penguins can manage to climb up the steep ice cliffs in Antarctica to start new breeding colonies. “This is a new breeding behavior we're witnessing here," said lead study Peter Fretwell, who’s a geographer with the British Antarctic Survey. "This has totally taken us by surprise. We didn't know they could go and breed up on the ice shelves." With less sea ice predicted in the coming decades, the adaption is important, although it “won't be the silver bullet that's going to save them from the loss of sea ice,” Fretwell said. This study was also published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

The Toronto Zoo's polar bear cub is working on learning to walk.

Surviving Cub Takes First Steps

After struggling to survive, a 2-month-old polar bear cub born at the Toronto Zoo is taking his wobbly first steps. The cub was one of three born to mom Aurora in November. He was removed from his mom a few days after his birth, when the zoo’s staff realized he wasn’t moving as strongly after the deaths of his two siblings. He spent time in intensive care and in an incubator, but the 9-pound bear is now doing well and is “quite active,” the zoo says. His teeth are coming in and he's starting to walk. When he’s ready, the cub will join the other polar bears on exhibit at the zoo. — Read it and watch it at the Huffington Post and see photos at the Toronto Zoo’s Facebook page

Pope Francis Poses With Lamb on Shoulders

While visiting a parish church just outside Rome on Sunday for the celebration of the Epiphany, Pope Francis had a special visit with one of the members of the church’s live nativity cast: a lamb. The pope burst into a huge smile as the lamb was wrapped around his shoulders. The lamb is important in religious imagery, with Jesus often referred to as the “lamb of God.” — See the photo at People Pets