Denver Zoo's new red panda 'Chewbacca' exploring outdoor habitat

DENVER - Visitors can now see the Denver Zoo's new red panda exploring his outdoor habitat.

Chewbacca is six years old and was moved from the Detroit Zoo as part of a conservation program.  Zoo keepers in Denver are pairing him with a six-year-old female named Daisy.

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, zoo officials say.

Red pandas, or fire fox, are native to the Himalayas.  But the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates there are less than 2,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

Red pandas were formerly thought to be closely related to giant pandas, but are now considered to be closer to raccoons.