Denver Zoo welcomes Kimbo the elephant, a new companion for grande dame Dolly

Denver Zoo elephant Dolly has a new lady friend -- 42-year-old Kimbo the elephant, who has come from the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas to live in Denver. Kimbo brings the Denver Zoo's Asian elephant population back up to four. It had declined by one when the eldest of the herd, 53-year-old Mimi, passed away in October.

Continue for more photos of Kimbo. No word yet on whether she and Dolly, who's 48, will join the Red Hat Society. But we hope so.

From the Denver Zoo:

Kimbo, a 42-year-old female, arrived from Fort Worth Zoo in December and spent the last couple months getting acquainted with her new state-of-the-art indoor quarters while she cleared a mandatory quarantine process.

Zookeepers describe Kimbo as a little bit shy and cautious but say she is becoming more comfortable with her new sounds, smells and opportunities. The first new female elephant to move into the exhibit, she is just now getting to know longtime zoo resident elephant Dolly as a herd mate. The two are getting along well and will provide each other excellent company long-term. They are similar in age as Dolly is believed to be at least 48 years old. Exact birthdates aren't known for either elephant, though. Dolly was born in India while Kimbo was born in Thailand.

Kimbo brings Denver Zoo's Asian elephant population back up to four including its two bulls, eight-year-old Bodhi and 41-year-old Groucho. Continue for more about Kimbo, including extra photos.

Asian elephants are found in a wide variety of habitats in southern Asia, in countries such as India, Thailand and Vietnam. They are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated wild population only 30,000. Their numbers continue to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation along with poaching for ivory.

Kimbo, Dolly, Bodhi and Groucho live in the zoo's Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit. For more on why the exhibit is groundbreaking, read our 2009 story "Trunk Show."

More from our News archive: "Denver Zoo welcomes an effing adorable red panda named Chewbacca, ready for love."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

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