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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

At this rate, elephants will be wiped out within 10 years

The illegal ivory trade is funding terrorist groups

A the combination of the zebra's broad and narrow stripes creating a confusing optical illusion

Zebra stripes explained

A zebra's stripes protects it from a range of predators, both big and small

Will Kemp is Ratty, Cris Penfold is Toad and Clemmie Sveaas is Mole in The Wind In The Willows at London's Duchess Theatre

Wind in the Willows, dance review: 'Cosily hand-knitted'

Duchess Theatre, London

'Weasel & Greenfinch' by Liza Dracup

Taxidermied animals reawakened in new photographs by Liza Dracup

The photographer talks to Daisy Wyatt about her new exhibition, based on the Bradford Museums & Galleries' taxidermy specimens

Kiwi bird could be Australian: New Zealand's bird could be from Australia, scientists say

New fossil research suggests the kiwi and emu share a common ancestor which travelled over to the smaller island nation millions of years ago

5,000 years of scrounging: Scientists discover world’s earliest evidence of cats living off humans

New study reveals proof for first time of how cats became ‘domesticated’

Five facts about elephants in circuses you need to know

Your go-to guide for performing pachyderms

China is currently responsible for 90 per cent of the world's angora wool supply

More shops ban the sale of angora wool after video exposes cruelty

An online clothing store has joined high-street shops in pulling angora products from its virtual shelves

A requisitioned employee carries pieces of meat under the surveillance of a policeman at a butchery's depot in Narbonne, southern France

French police arrest 21 people over sale of laboratory horse meat to the public

Twenty-one people have been arrested after an investigation into claims that meat from horses used in laboratory experiments was sold for food.

The frequent killings of top predators, such as wolves, bears and coyotes, benefit 'a small proportion of the nation's private agriculture' and other interests

Wildlife Services: Critics target America's ‘rogue’ assassins who kill 3 million animals a year

A US government  programme to control wildlife is under fire for being inhumane

The music video for Ylvis's

'The Fox' goes viral again, this time as a Christmas light show

Jay Perkins's festive rendition of the YouTube hit has attracted over 250,000 views in just two days

Chimpanzee dressed in a suit roller-skating through prostitutes and dwarves in Wolf of Wall Street prompts boycott calls

An animal rights group is calling for a boycott of Martin Scorsese's upcoming film, The Wolf of Wall Street, because it features a chimpanzee in a suit roller-skating through an office.

Dogs can predict and understand human behaviour better than ever, a new study has found, suggesting future generations of man’s best friend may not need any training at all.

Man's best friend just got better: Dogs can predict and understand human behaviour better than ever, and future generations may not need training

Study finds a dog’s understanding of our minds is increasingly instinctive

Porn star tells university to stop skinning rodents' penises for sex experiments

Ron Jeremy - nicknamed "the hedgehog" - said despite it taking a lot to shock him, as "an expert on sex", he was "appalled" by the sexual behaviour experiments carried out by US universities on rodents

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there