News A meerkat peers out from beneath a rock during a stocktake

Creatures were given snacks in exchange for having their details recorded by zoo keepers

One of the five cuckoos being tracked has decided to stay in France
Yang Guang, pictured, and his mate Tian Tian have a 36-hour breeding window

Let's get it on: giant pandas have a hot date in the 'love tunnel'

Edinburgh Zoo hopes Tian Tian and Yang Guang will mate for the first time within days

Album: British Sea Power, Machineries of Joy (Rough Trade)

It's almost boring: yet another excellent British Sea Power album.

Hearing aid: An owl’s ears can detect a mouse under earth or snow

Paperback review: Bird Sense - What It's Like to Be a Bird, By Tim Birkhead

A bird-brained philosophy of science

Last night's viewing - Planet Ant: Life Inside the Colony, BBC4; Heading Out, BBC2

Remember ant farms? Two sheets of glass filled with earth and topped off with a cartoon rendering of a Midwestern cattle ranch? In my experience, they seemed to offer a matchless way for a budding entomologist to study the process by which live ants turn into dead ones – or, just occasionally, how excitable human matriarchs can become when the ant colony breaks free and heads across the kitchen for the sugar bag. Having watched Planet Ant: Life Inside the Colony, though, I can see that these rudimentary affairs barely deserved the name of ant farm.

A polar bear cub unveiled at Buffalo Zoo

Cute polar bear makes debut at New York zoo

'Luna' will be formally named in Facebook contest

Cringeworthy: Ricky Gervais as downtrodden care-home worker Derek

John Walsh on Derek: Funny how Ricky Gervais's show lacks laughs, when Lena Dunham's Girls crackles with wit and invention

Gervais's latest addition to his comedy menagerie grates more than it amuses

Must watch: Dog adopts orphaned tiger cubs in Russia

If you haven't seen it yet and want to feel all Christmassy, here's a video of a dog adopting orphaned tiger cubs.

Avian pox produces warts and stops great tits feeding properly

Great tit under threat from mosquito borne virus that is sweeping the country

Avian pox, which has spread among woodpigeons and house sparrows for a number of years, is now taking its toll of populations of the great tit

Why there's no such thing as a good zoo

The alleged abuse of elephants at Twycross Zoo should make us consider once more the role zoos play in animal conservation

Postcard from... Berlin

Berlin likes to honour its animal legends. Knautschke was the name of the city's beloved hippopotamus – a brave creature born in Berlin's zoo at the height of the Second World War, he survived the trauma of the Allied air raids which killed his mother.

Horror as toddler mauled to death after mother balanced him on railing above wild dog enclosure at zoo

The boy, who was visiting the zoo with his mother and friends, fell about 14 feet into an exhibit that's home to a pack of African painted dogs

Professor Sir John Gurdon was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology this week

Education: Must try harder!

Nobel Prize-winner Sir John Gurdon didn't impress his teachers. He's not the only success story with a shocker of a report card, as Tim Walker discovers

Man found dead in tiger pit at Copenhagen Zoo

Police say a 21-year old man was found dead inside the tiger den at the Copenhagen Zoo with his throat bitten.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
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Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn