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Madagascar 3 tops box office

ZOO animals are still in demand at North America's cinema box offices.

Ben Stiller and his voice co-stars of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted held on to the number one spot, with €28m for the animated sequel's second weekend in theatres.

Studio estimates put Ridley Scott's sci-fi adventure Prometheus second again with €15.9m.

Madagascar 3 and Prometheus held off two under-achieving newcomers. The star-studded musical Rock of Ages, whose cast includes Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin, flopped at number three with €1.9m.

Ibis born on Branson island

RICHARD Branson said he has re-introduced a flame-red bird to the British Virgin Islands.

The Virgin Group boss said on his blog that a Scarlet Ibis was recently born on his private island in the British Caribbean territory. Richard said it was "the first Scarlet Ibis born in the British Virgin Islands for over 100 years".

He has developed an exclusive eco-resort on Necker Island that showcases renewable energy technology and successfully re-introduced flamingos there.

McCain backs Syrian rebels

SENATOR John McCain characterised the lack of US aid to Syrian rebels as "shameful" and said helping their cause would deal "the greatest blow to Iran in the Middle East in 25 years".

The former presidential candidate's remarks sought to maintain political pressure on President Barack Obama as violence in the region escalated, forcing a 300-strong UN observer mission to call off its patrols.

Hollande's ex loses subplot

IN a French election subplot, prominent Socialist Segolene Royal - the mother of Francois Hollande's four children and the runner-up to Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential vote - lost her race in western France and her bid to become Parliament speaker.

Her rival was a breakaway Socialist Olivier Falorni who had drawn the support of Mr Hollande's companion Valerie Trierweiler.