For the last 18 years the Howell Conference and Nature Center in Howell, Michigan had been home to Cody the Coyote, who was believed to be the oldest of his kind in captivity. Coyotes in the wild rarely live longer than a decade, and those in captivity generally succumb to old age or disease before 16.
“Cody came to us as a pup in the summer of 1995,” the nature center’s director, Dana DeBenham, told OutdoorHub.
The young coyote had been taken from a den and raised illegally until he was nine weeks old, at which point he was discovered by authorities and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center. It was later determined that Cody was far too tame to be reintroduced to the wild and the coyote was transported to the Howell nature center.
Wild animals that cannot be released are often kept to educate center visitors about nature. In the coyote exhibit Cody found companions and what DeBenham described as a “peaceful existence.” The long-lived coyote greeted numerous schoolchildren and volunteers, and became a staple of the center. Other coyotes also came and went in the exhibit, but Cody always stayed. His most recent exhibit mates were a Californian coyote by the name of Fresno and a cub, Loki. He was in their company when employees opened up the center on Tuesday.
“He was found dead in his exhibit, but right up until then he was doing okay,” DeBenham said. “He had many tours and field trips on Monday and some of our environmental educators even got him to howl a little bit.”
While Cody’s longetivity may be an unique case, his body was beginning to show the signs of old age. Employees of the center describe health problems and the coyote’s diet has been recently modified to suit his age. The animal’s spirit however, did not seem to diminish.
“He was still doing his thing until the end,” DeBenham said.
There have been cases where coyotes in captivity neared Cody’s age, and one coyote was rumored to have reached the age of 20. That number has not been substantiated.
Image courtesy Howell Conference and Nature Center