Ecology and Life
The puppy room easing life's pain in a stroke
Gentle wobblings of a 'foul gull' fulmar
Frigatebird returns to nest on Ascension for first time since Darwin
New to Nature No 94: Canthigaster criobe
Uggie: 'He likes to fly first class'
It's a dog's life in China: sold for £1m or stolen and sold as meat
Malibu residents hire crew to remove rotting whale carcass from beach
Yellowstone's popular alpha female wolf shot dead by hunters outside park
What I miss most in the dead time of winter is the insects
BSE testing on cattle slaughtered for food 'no longer necessary'
Malaysia seizes 1,500 elephant tusks headed for China
The vibrant river was a welcome relief after the bleak, snow-covered fields
TV Review: Miniature Britain; Weight Loss Ward; Rome
Marine conservation group says UK lacks ambition to preserve seas
UK seas to gain 31 marine conservation zones
Live animal exports going via previously unknown routes
When a dozing otter steals the show
Newly discovered slow loris species already threatened
What the male bowerbird can teach us about home furnishings
Could this really be the fearsome, legendary Girt Dog reincarnate?
Overfishing is a solvable environmental challenge for the EU
Life comes cheap for winter wrens
Ash trees consumed by something of the night
Foie gras taken off menu in House of Lords
  Uggie: 'He likes to fly first class'
On a queen-size mattress at the Arch hotel in central London, Uggie is curled up in front of the flatscreen TV. This Jack Russell terrier might be the most famous animal alive, having starred in January smash The Artist, stealing scenes in the silent film and winning acclaim for his role as Jean Dujardin's expressive pet. Uggie put in one of the great performances of 2012, and if he wants to watch Loose Women in bed, he may.

He is close to the end of a draining promotional tour, New York to Paris to Chicago and now here, publicising a book (Uggie: My Story) as well as a smartphone app. This on the back of supporting The Artist through its cinema release, during which time Uggie scampered up and down red carpets, and panted on chatshow sofas. He flies between engagements in first class. "He's a celebrity," says trainer Omar von Muller. "He's paid for his seat so shut up, that's what we tell [the airlines]." Travel, nonetheless, takes its toll.

Uggie descends from the mattress, stretching on to a pouffe at the foot of the bed. He flaps a forepaw feebly, like an ailing patient. Then he rolls on to his side, limp, making everybody watching sigh and coo. Uggie's a ham.

"He knows how to work a room," agrees Von Muller, a tanned 49-year-old Colombian who lives in Panorama City, Los Angeles. He adopted Uggie in 2002, adding him to a stable of performing animals. By the time The Artist came calling, in 2010, Uggie was an experienced thesp, a veteran of adverts and a travelling act called The Incredible Dog Show. He nailed his breakthrough film audition, performing for a casting team on Von Muller's front lawn.

"Most of the tricks in the movie, like falling backwards, or hiding his face they were used because the director saw Uggie do them," he says. "They were not in the script." Hire Uggie and you get a performer who not only works for cheese-flavoured popcorn but who can sharpen a screenplay too. Moreover he's a 2011 winner of the Cannes Palm Dog award.

His schedule is now lighter than it was. Shortly after shooting finished on The Artist, Uggie was cast in an advert for Valentine's Day cards. One scene involved him riding a gondola, and Von Muller could tell the dog wasn't giving his all. On The Artist Uggie was putting in 15-hour shifts. "And whenever he came out the dressing room he'd be pulling on the leash, tail wagging let's go, let's get it done." Now, in his gondola, "Uggie was showing me that he was slowing down. The dog was 10 years old. Even if he wasn't famous, it's not fair to be doing long hours on set. That's why we have younger dogs to take over."

Uggie was yanked; an understudy, Dash, was brought in. Uggie is now in semi-retirement. "He'll be 11 going on 12 next year, but he still has energy. We'll do some appearances, little things spend some time in hospitals, make people laugh."

A lead clipped to his custom-made gold collar, Uggie is led to the lobby of the hotel. The dog is retired but no less loved, and a family ask him to pause for pictures. When flying in first-class, fellow passengers ask him to come out for photographs. "We even have the captains of the planes coming out. They say they fly the best actors around, and never ask to take pictures. But with Uggie they have to."
New to Nature No 96: Oncopodura fadriquei
Animal rights activists plan direct action against beagle imports
How the stink of a waterbuck could prevent sleeping sickness in Kenya
Tatler's dog, Alan, dies in bizarre revolving door accident
Insecticide 'unacceptable' danger to bees, report finds
Freedom Foods 'failing to crack down' on poor salmon farming standards
One in 10 Welsh livestock farmers illegally kill badgers, study suggests
Crab study puts pain on the menu
A large shape a bittern flies across the pond
Wolf killings are based on the most cynical of premises
New to nature No 97: Ferrisia uzinuri
Sad to see the tide turn against the otter
An owl swoops down on wings that seem as broad as they are long
Animals: are they good for supper or good companions?
Is human branding an animal-rights stunt too far?
Cat lovers pounce on campaign to save New Zealand's birds
Common pesticides 'can kill frogs within an hour'
There is something irresistibly cheerful about a flock of twite
Solomon Islands villagers kill 900 dolphins in conservation dispute
Mistle thrush numbers in decline
Guyana pledges to protect jaguars
Dung beetles navigate by the stars
How do you catch an escaped crocodile?
New to Nature No 98: Xerophytacolus claviverpus
Animal astronauts: the unsung heroes of space exploration
Pygmy elephants found dead in Borneo after 'poisoning'
A badger's biscuit-sized footprints in the snow follow the field edge
British moths in calamitous decline, major new study reveals
The lake is muted under the winter sun, like a faint watercolour painting
Should the RSPCA have pursued the man who ate a live goldfish?
Days of heavy rain have left the ancient woodland sodden
Alice Roberts: Rudolph and our early ancestors a love story
Saving the rhino with surveillance drones
Hunting with dogs ban unlikely to get free vote admit top Tories
The tracks in the snow revealed the secrets of these night visitors
A perfect winter's day for a walk
Meet the woman battling Japan's whaling fleet in Antarctic ocean
China captivated by tiny tuneful insects that sing for their supper
HBO sued by animal rights worker over abuse of horses on Luck
Some surprising facts about hedgehogs
Cats killed in cattery fire
Experience: my horse sank in quicksand
Alys Fowler: fat balls and mealworms
Hawks in danger of extinction in illegal hunting campaign
What the Japanese red bug teaches us about parenting
Fishermen back sanctions against Iceland over mackerel catch
What I learned the day a dying whale spared my life
Overfishing causes Pacific bluefin tuna numbers to drop 96%
Glistening with water droplets, the black-throated diver looked almost eerie
Kitten swallows 15cm-long TV aerial
As the rain blows over, a double rainbow arcs across the sky
A moorhen sent stone-skimmer splashes as it pattered across the river
Visit Statistics