Las Vegas, October 25 (AFP) – The opening of the Denver Zoo on Thursday evening (local time) brought a festive atmosphere to the city as visitors were treated to fireworks, live entertainment and a live concert by the likes of Queen Latifah.
The zoo was built in 1928 by philanthropist and explorer George D. Rockefeller, who donated the land to create a wildlife preserve for endangered species.
Since its inception, the zoo has seen more than 2,000 animals arrive each year, including the first African grey wolf cubs.
Among the zoo’s attractions was a spectacular view of the Las Vegas Strip as a giant fireworks display flashed over the horizon.
“We’re very pleased to welcome the first of the two species of animals to our Las Vegas zoo,” said Michael Rourke, director of the zoo, which is one of the city’s oldest and largest.
“It was a special moment for us because we’ve had a lot of work done to the building over the last 10 years.”
In an interview with AFP, zoo director Chris Kline said the new animals are the first to be introduced to the zoo since the new owners moved into the facility.
“There’s been a lot more than two species that have come to Las Vegas,” he said.
“The first was the African greywolf cubs, and now there’s another new species of animal.”
The new arrivals are due to arrive on Wednesday.
In the past, the Denver zoo has welcomed a wide variety of wildlife, including exotic pandas and panda bears, but the new arrival could be the biggest yet.
“They’re the biggest in the world,” zoo spokeswoman Laura Siegel told AFP.
“For the first time, we’ll have a whole group of animals, not just two, that have been brought together in one space.”
Denver Zoo’s director, Dr Peter Vella, told AFP the zoo would soon open a full-time staff of 30 people to help care for the animals, which include more than a dozen species of birds and mammals.
“I think the staff is just the tip of the iceberg,” he added.
“These animals are really special.”