DENVER – Haven’t been to the Denver Zoo in a while? You may want to go this weekend – not only because the Zoo is free this Sunday and Monday – but also because you may not want to miss out on learning about the five newest animals the Zoo introduced recently.
Red Panda cubs Lali and Masu
Two incredibly cute red panda cubs were born at the Denver Zoo last June but didn’t get to join the red panda exhibit until after July 8.
The red panda cubs were named Lali and Masu and despite having a rough start during the first weeks of life, both are now doing well on their own.
Red pandas are native to Asia and are most commonly found in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. Like giant pandas, red pandas eat large amounts of bamboo daily.
Four African lion cubs
The Denver Zoo welcomed four new lion cubs on July 13 of last year from the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kan.
The cubs -- Kito, Bahati, Usiki and Jasiri -- can be seen in the Benson Predator Ridge. The cubs are not small, they each weigh more than 200 pounds.
The cubs were moved because their father was starting to push them out.
"[That's] a natural occurrence that is common in prides as males start to reach sexual maturity," zoo officials explained. "The lion cubs are not currently recommended to breed and will be housed separately from the Zoo's other pride."
The Denver Zoo is currently home to four other lions: adult females Neliah and Sabi, male cub Kalu and female cub Kamara.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service lists lions as a threatened species. Increasing human populations in Africa are reducing and fragmenting wild lions’ available territory and prey.
Eirina, an orangutan from Sumatra
An 8-year-old female orangutan from Sumatra named Eirinia arrived to the Denver Zoo on Sept. 22, 2016, from Germany’s Dortmund Zoo.
Zookeeper’s hope Eirina will breed with 14-year-old Bernas, better know as “Junie.”
"Zookeepers say Eirina offered Bernas treats when they were in adjacent rooms. When the door separating them first opened, Eirina chose to go to Bernas and they greeted each other with a hug," Zoo officials said when they first introduced her.
Zookeepers also said Eirina is very playful and said she loves covering herself with blankets.
Visitors can see Eirina in the Great Apes building in the Zoo’s Primate Panorama.
Cody, the Grevy’s Zebra
A new baby zebra was born in December of last year at the Denver Zoo.
The male foal was named Cody and was born in the early hours of Saturday, Dec. 3.
At the time of its birth, Zoo officials said the Grevy’s zebra was thriving and ran very well for a zebra that was less than a week old.
This is the second birth for the 16-year-old Farasi at Denver Zoo, after male foal Bosley was born in October 2015. The zoo says Bosley has shown strong interest in playing with his younger brother, but Farasi is still very protective, though, for the time being.
Grevy’s zebra are one of three species of zebra, in addition to plains, or common zebra, and mountain zebra. They are classified as “endangered.”
Nikita the Amur Tiger
Nikita, a 6-year-old Amur Tiger from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo arrived to Denver in November of 2016.
Her father, Taiga, lived here in Denver from 2002 to 2010, until he was moved to Pittsburgh.
Zookeepers describe Nikita as smart, but quiet and shy around new people. She enjoys interacting with cats in nearby yards and scratching up enrichment items like logs and phone books, officials said.
She has her new home to herself for the moment, but will be joined in the coming weeks by brothers Nikolai and Thimbu, when they move over from the Zoo's Feline Building. The two were born at Denver Zoo in June 2010, according to Zoo officials.
Editor's note: Nikita won't be viewable to the public just yet. She will be part of the tiger exhibition when the Zoo's The Edge opens on March 17.
Amur tigers are classified as "endangered" by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated population of less than 400 individuals remaining in the wild.
The biggest threats to these tigers comes from poaching, both for their fur and their other body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.