Detroit Zoo’s giant anteater, oldest of its kind, dies at 26

Chelsea the giant anteater. (Detroit Zoological Society)

The Detroit Zoo says its giant anteater, thought to be the oldest of its kind, has died at the impressive age of 26.

The Detroit Zoo said Monday that Chelsea the giant anteater died after “a long and healthy life,” after she came to the zoo in 1997. The zoo said Chelsea was the oldest living giant anteater in a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

“Chesley or ‘Mama-Ches’ (as she was affectionately known) was a great companion to several other anteaters including her daughter, Raya, and Bissell, her great-granddaughter. She often enjoyed taking naps in the sunshine and tearing apart one of her favorite treats, an avocado, with her front claws. As her species name suggests, Chesley also enjoyed digging up ants and other insects she could find in her outdoor habitat,” said Betsie Meister, associate curator of mammals, who cared for her at the Detroit Zoo.

“Chesley will be greatly missed by staff, volunteers, members and guests,” the zoo said.

Related: A viewer thought animal in Macomb County could be missing Detroit Zoo wallaby. We asked the zoo

The giant anteater is native to Central and South American regions, and typically thrive in grasslands or rainforests. The average life span of a giant anteater in the wild is about 14 years. They are key parts of the insect ecosystem.

Chelsea the giant anteater. (Detroit Zoological Society)

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