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New red panda makes public debut at Denver Zoo

DENVER — A new red panda is making his debut at the Denver Zoo. His caretakers hope he and his new friend are ready for some romance as well.

Chewbacca is a 6-year-old male. He comes to Denver from the Detroit Zoo.

Zookeepers say he’s the perfect mate for Daisy, the Denver Zoo’s female red panda. They hope the pair will have a baby red panda someday.

Daisy arrived from the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Mich. in November.

Denver Zoo has been successful in breeding red pandas. A previous pair, He-Ping and Sophia, gave birth to six cubs during 2008 and 2009.

Red pandas, or fire fox, are born with cream-colored fur and they’re small enough to fit in the palm of your found.

Their natural habitat is in the Himalaya Mountains.

Adults grow to about 20-25 inches with tails that grow to 11-19″. Their fur is soft and dense. Their bushy tails have six distinctive yellow rings.

Thinking used to be that red pandas were closely related to giant pandas. But experts now consider them to be more closely related to raccoons.

It’s estimated there are less than 2,500 red pandas remaining in the wild, so they’re classified as “vulnerable.”

The little creatures are well adapted to living in the cold temperatures of the mountains in south-central Asia and they’re quite comfortable being outside during cooler days in Denver.