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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Full Metal Jacket actor R. Lee Ermey poses in Facebook pictures with lions he shot

A Hollywood actor has been branded a “disgusting killer” after being pictured proudly with two dead lions.

An aerialist performs during Quidam, a show by Cirque du Soleil, at the Royal Albert Hall
Fishermen have found two conjoined gray whale calves in a northwestern Mexican lagoon, a discovery that a government marine biologist described as

Conjoined gray whale calves discovered in Mexican lagoon could be world's first ever documented find, experts say

Experts said that while other species have been found to have conjoined twins, the find is ‘without any precedent’ among gray whales

The pope has a lamb put around his neck by a woman dressed as a character from the nativity scene at Church of St Alfonso Maria dei Liguori in the outskirts of Rome

Pope visits Nativity re-enactment

'My goldfish died': 10 oddest excuses for late tax returns

HM Revenue and Customs reveals 10 most bizarre excuses for sending in a late return

Investigators say Joshua Werbicki was caught having sex with the dog on a hidden camera

Man in Florida charged with having sex with dog

A man in Florida has been arrested over allegedly having repeated sex with a dog.

Lonely dolphin 'trying to make friends with humans' after being separated from pod in Australia

A lonely young dolphin is trying to make friends with humans along Australia’s east coast but swimmers are being told to shun the creature.

A pile of confiscated ivory waiting to be crushed in Dongguan, southern Guangdong province

China crushes six tonnes of ivory in crackdown on illegal trade

The illegal stockpile was destroyed in a landmark move but critics say it is just a fraction of the total

Three dead minke whales lie on the deck of the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru as it travels through the Southern Ocean

Photos show Japanese boats 'whaling in internationally protected area'

Anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd say they shot the footage showing dead whales in pools of blood

Frozen skin, dead animals and hypothermia: What happens at -50ºC?

The icy winds blasting the US have the power to freeze bare skin and kill animals.

100-year sentences deny perpetrators the chance of change - and allow us to forget their humanity

Much as we should be disgusted by their crimes, locking people up for a century will not make our country a safer place

Book review: 'The Dig' by Cynan Jones

Poetry, red in tooth and claw

Two-headed calf Sana Saida born in Morocco

Locals have been flocking to see the animal in the city of Fes

Postcard from... Berlin

The conversation: Environmental activist Laurens de Groot on running from seal clubbers and why you don't mess with Russia

Sea Shepherd would aim to scupper missions by any means, whether it was throwing foul-smelling acid or sinking ships. At what point did you join?

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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
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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
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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