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'Star Wars, Episode TWP: A Zoo Hope.' Tanganyika welcomes Chewbacca to wildlife park

Chewbacca, a baby sloth, made his first appearance to the public at Tanganyika Wildlife Park on Friday through a "baby reveal" on Facebook Live.
Chewbacca, a baby sloth, made his first appearance to the public at Tanganyika Wildlife Park on Friday through a "baby reveal" on Facebook Live. Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Tanganyika Wildlife Park now has a "Star Wars" character of its own — and the baby animal is part of “Star Wars, Episode TWP: A Zoo Hope.”

Chewbacca, a baby sloth, made his first appearance to the public at the Goddard-based park on Friday through a "baby reveal" on Facebook Live.

During the reveal, Tanganyika assistant director Matt Fouts opened three different gifts. The first two boxes — one with birthday wrapping paper and the other with Christmas wrapping paper — each held a sloth stuffed animal from the gift shop.

Then he opened the third box — a box wrapped with baseball wrapping paper.

But it also held a stuffed sloth from the gift shop.

Then Fouts turned the stuffed sloth around.

Attached was Chewbacca — "a real sloth" — clinging to the stuffed animal's back.

"This is probably the most excited I've been to have a baby animal at the park, and we've had a lot of babies," Fouts said. "You can see he's incredibly cute — he's incredibly friendly ... and he can't wait to see you guys."

If you visit Tanganyika during the next few weeks, Fouts said, you will find Chewbacca in the nursery.

Staff members are currently building Chewbacca a permanent exhibit where guests will be able to participate in animal encounters with the "Star Wars" character. Animal encounters allow guests to interact with animals on exhibit, such as by feeding giraffes and ring-tailed lemurs or by riding a camel named Charlie.

Fouts said he hopes for Chewbacca's animal encounter exhibit to be ready by this summer.

For more information about Tanganyika Wildlife Park, visit www.twpark.com.

The cheetah cubs at the Tanganyika Wildlife Park go outside for the first time.

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