News A male Asiatic lion guarding his cub at London Zoo

To most of us, lions are African, but many of the great beasts of legend were Indian. Now a zoo plans to breed more of them

'It's very big, fast and angry... and it came with my online shopping'

Zoo experts stumped after woman hands in mystery spider species

Stem cells give hope for rare species

Scientists have taken the first tentative steps towards conserving some of the world's most endangered species with the help of stem-cell technology, which could lead to the generation of sperm and eggs from skin cells.

Mark Avery: It demeans us when we let a species die

On 1 September 1914 a bird known as Martha died in a cage in Cincinnati Zoo and the passenger pigeon was extinct. Newspapers across the world marked the event but nearly 100 years later should we give Martha a moment's thought? Indeed, why should we care about extinctions?

Leading article: Are zoos justified?

One of the advantages of the science of animal behaviour, which was founded 60 years ago by Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz, is that it has let us understand something of the essence of wild creatures: how they go about their normal lives in their natural state. It has also correspondingly enabled us to see, for the first time, that some behaviours exhibited by the animals we keep in captivity are not normal at all. Indeed, as we report today in the case of chimpanzees, they can be examples of considerable distress, or even incipient madness; and the cause seems to be captivity itself.

Zoo to breed chimpanzees despite cruelty warning

A Scottish zoo is planning to start a new breeding programme for chimpanzees, in the wake of recent research suggesting that captivity drives chimps mad.

In the Dust, Zoo Southside, Edinburgh

There's an immediate energy to In the Dust, a new triple bill by 2Faced Dance Company. This all-male troupe mixes hip-hop moves with contemporary dance, creating a muscular, confident style. These works show none of the joins that can plague crossover projects. The dancers have an easy athleticism, at home with everything from street dance acrobatics to mooching contemporary steps.

Natalie Haynes: Bartender! A stiff drink for those mothers

Start the week ...

Robert Hanks: Lions aren't just big pussy cats – they're dignified and dangerous

News from the Daily Mail that Alexander Pylyshenko, owner of a small private zoo in Vasylivka, Ukraine, is to spend five weeks living in a cage with two lions.

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

Rhino horn thefts blamed on Irish gang

An organised crime gang from Ireland is masterminding illegal trade in rhino horns around the world.

DVD: The Nicolas Philibert Collection (12)

The standout here is the ineffably lovely Être et Avoir, Philibert's documentary which charts the infinitely patient Monsieur Georges Lopez's final year of teaching in a village primary school in the Auvergne region.

Rare parrots bred at zoo after 19 years

Zoo keepers have succeeded in breeding three rare parrots after 19 years of trying. The Philippine cockatoo chicks are being hand-reared at Chester Zoo in Cheshire after they were hatched in incubators.

Endoscopy for penguin stranded in New Zealand

An Antarctic penguin which ended up stranded and eating sand on a New Zealand beach is recovering after a very human treatment - an endoscopy.

Stranded penguin is moved to zoo

After planning to let nature take its course, wildlife officials yesterday moved a stranded emperor penguin from a New Zealand beach to Wellington Zoo after its health worsened.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran