A red panda named Chewbacca has come to live at the Denver Zoo. His purpose? To mate with the zoo's female red panda, Daisy.
His other, more important purpose? To be effing adorable.
Continue reading for more facts and photos of the six-year-old Chewbacca -- who came to Denver from the Detroit Zoo and actually sorta looks like the Wookiee from Star Wars. But cuter.
From the Denver Zoo:
A new male red panda has arrived at Denver Zoo as a suitable mate for the zoo's lone female, Daisy. ... Daisy is a 6-year-old red panda who arrived at Denver Zoo last November from Potter Park Zoo in Michigan. The two have been paired together under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Denver Zoo has been very successful in breeding red pandas. A previous breeding pair, He-Ping and Sophia, gave birth to six cubs between 2008 and 2009.
Born with cream-colored fur and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, red pandas, or fire fox, are found in the Himalayas. As adults, their bodies measure up to 25 inches long, with eleven- to nineteen-inch tails. They have soft, dense reddish fur on the back while their legs and undersides are dark and there is some white on their face and ears. Their bushy tails have six distinctive yellowish rings. Red pandas were formerly thought to be closely related to giant pandas, but are now considered to be closer related to raccoons.
Red pandas are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated population of less than 2,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild. Their population continues to decline due to habitat fragmentation and hunting. Like their larger cousins, these lesser pandas eat primarily bamboo shoots. Red pandas are well adapted with their thick fur coats to live in the often low temperatures of the mountains of south-central Asia and are quite comfortable outside during cooler days here in Denver.
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