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London Zoo

Can an ape learn to be human?

As two new films explore the human-like behaviour of chimpanzees, Steve Connor explains the fascination – and fear – we have about our closest living relatives

New Yorkers bitten by story of escaped cobra

The highly strung citizens of New York have yet another reason to feel on edge this morning: one of the world's most venomous creatures has escaped from its secure enclosure at The Bronx Zoo.

Zoo accused of contributing to Knut's death

Animal rights groups have sharply criticised Berlin's zoo, saying that the way the polar bear Knut was raised and held in captivity could have led to his death at such a young age.

Jamrach's Menagerie, By Carol Birch

Although Carol Birch's new novel derives from a real-life incident – the sinking of the whale-ship Essex in 1820 – and, in Charles Jamrach (1815-1891), hovers over a genuine personage, two of its chief references are straightforwardly literary. The first is Thackeray's ballad of maritime cannibalism "Little Billee". The second is the celebrated Jack London short story in which, as a gang of ship-wrecked sailors grimly debate their chances of survival, the rescue boat heaves into view five minutes after the cabin boy's throat has been cut. All this is to ignore a series of semaphore signals to the literature of the nautical East End that takes in everything from Our Mutual Friend and Thomas Burke's Limehouse Nights to Arthur Morrison's thriller The Hole in the Wall.

Conservation Dogs: eco researchers

Dogs' sniffing powers have helped to detect bombs and smell signs of cancer. Now they're being used to track down endangered wildlife. Sue Corfield reports

Endangered species: Cull to be kind?

When breeding programs are successful, endangered species are saved from extinction. But if too many animals are born, zoos have to take drastic steps

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The Glass Menagerie, Young Vic, London

"The scene is memory and is therefore non-realistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license," writes Tennessee Williams in his introductory stage direction to the 1944 play that propelled him into the major league of American dramatists. Joe Hill-Gibbins takes him at his word in this magnificent production, a revival that is as conceptually fresh as it is emotionally devastating.

Independent Classical podcast: Dario Marianelli/Young Vic

Dario Marianelli won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his score for the movie Atonement and his return to the theatre after a long absence as composer for the Young Vic's new production of Tennessee Williams' first big Broadway success The Glass Menagerie is hotly anticipated.