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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Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'