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

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Rarity has a value all of its own

Why is rarity so prized? What deep psychological roots in us does it tap? It clearly has nothing to do with the inherent properties of a given object, as a tatty and overprinted postage stamp will have immense allure for stamp collectors, if very rare, whereas a clean and exceptionally beautiful stamp which has just been issued in its millions will carry no cachet.

Camel, By Robert Irwin

Peter O'Toole owes his life to Shagram, the "No. 1 camel" which – during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia - stood over the star after a fall as stampeding horses thundered past. Robert Irwin's erudite, droll and utterly delightful book about the life and lore of the dromedary (one hump) and Bactrian (two) abounds with details that reflect glory on a much-misundersstood animal.

Can she handle a new gorilla in her midst?

Dilemma for London Zoo after death of primate harem's dominant male

Leading article: Water of life

Where there is life there's hope. And that certainly applies to our rivers.

Humanists protest over Creationist zoo

A secular group is demanding that tourism groups stop promoting a "Creationist" zoo which questions the traditional view of evolution.

'King Newt' Ken to marry at the reptile house

Ken Livingstone and wife-to-be Emma Beal are to say their vows among the wallabies and emus of London Zoo, the capital's former mayor has revealed.

Zoo forced to shut as 30 chimps escape

Chester Zoo was evacuated this afternoon after 30 chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure. The animals found their way into a keeper area where their food is prepared at 12.40pm. More than 5,000 visitors were asked to leave the 110-acre zoo shortly afterwards, as keepers rounded up the chimps. There were no injuries to members of the public or staff and the decision was taken purely as a precautionary measure, the zoo said in a statement. "We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused to our visitors and would thank them for their full co-operation and patience," the statement said. The zoo has more than 1.3 million visitors a year and has been named by Forbes as one of the best 15 zoos in the world.

Masters and Commanders, By Andrew Roberts

Exceptional in both research and thundering narrative, this revealing book tells the story of the four key players on the Allied side in the Second World War.

Eric Simms

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London Zoo's gorilla Bobby dies

London Zoo's gorilla Bobby has died, it was announced today.

Darwin's 'beard' on show for first time

Strands of hair believed to have fallen out of Charles Darwin's beard will go on show in public for the first time tomorrow in what is expected to be a blockbuster exhibition on the Victorian naturalist.

The Zoological Society of London

In Thursday's article ' Iceland blows town hall budgets', we wrote that The Zoological Society of London, which runs London zoo, had £500,000 of its money frozen by Iceland banks. In fact The Zoological Society of London does not have any funds invested in Icelandic banks.'

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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
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there